New Zealand choose to win the toss and lose against first innings SA.

QDK scores his 4th hundred of this World Cup and Marco Jansen takes early wickets.

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New Zealand win the toss, make 300, and make sure to test South Africa’s chasing capability. Wait, no, they bowled first, QDK made his 21st hundred, Rassie added a supplementary one, and South Africa made 357 batting first. Marco Jansen took more early wickets, mocking his pre-World Cup form. Coetzee and Rabada taking wickets in the middle. And then Maharaja dined on the carcass. South Africa look as good as India when they bat first. New Zealand now have lost three on a trot, which is a win for the schedule hawks who saw it coming.

QDK and Rassie against offspin in the middle (SAK)

South Africa played with their normal template once again - started slow, knocked it around in the middle and exploded at the death. Nothing surprising here at all. But I found QDK and RVD’s approach against Phillips in the middle overs a bit interesting. So I pulled up their middle overs numbers against off-break, and it holds up. RVD doesn’t get out to those and prefers to maintain a healthy scoring rate without taking too many risks. And QDK has been dismissed off this bowling type at times.

So this explains why they played against Phillips the way they did, it makes sense according to their batting plan.

What is de Kock like first innings to the second? (SAK)

I had a feeling that de Kock is better at batting first than he is while chasing after watching him bat in this tournament. So I looked up his career numbers. He averages 5 runs less but has a +10 strike rate while chasing. I think this makes sense because openers often tend to go harder at the top in run chases. And we have talked about how QDK looks for boundaries a lot more than some of the other aggressive openers of this generation.

But let’s talk about World Cups. Now you can see the difference. This also adds up with the theory that South Africa struggle to chase a lot more in World Cups than usual. Against Pakistan, he went all guns blazing against Shaheen at the top. He scored 24 off 14 balls, and SA won the chase by just 1 wicket.

South Africa ride Coetzee’s middle overs coattails (JK)

So this World Cup, South Africa have an issue as too many of their bowlers are in form at the same time. It is a nice problem to have, Australia would love it.

Gerald Coetzee currently has four more wickets in the middle overs than anyone else. And there are some very fine bowlers on this who have struggled in the middle. Starc dominated the last two World Cups here, he has not been good, and neither has Mark Wood.

In fact, when you look at the English quickies not doing well at all. But Coo - tzee - ar is, but just in wickets. He is actually the fourth most expensive bowler. And no doubt, they are trying to do this. It is their plan to make him attack. But going at nearly seven runs an over in the tournament is completely crazy. You would certainly take it if you this many wickets. But if he slows down taking them, that is when the problems might come.

How SA have three players who could have come in at the forty-over mark? (SAK)

At the 40th over mark after QDK’s dismissal, SA still had the hitting power of Markram, Miller and Klaasen to follow with a set van der Dussen in the middle. Even Jansen, but obviously a much smaller sample for him. They decided to send in Miller at number 4, their most experienced bet, which worked pretty well to be fair to them. But how many teams in this tournament can boast of such exceptional death overs, pace hitting options available to them?

How many sixes per game do SA hit compared to other team (SAK)

South Africa now have the most sixes by any team in a single World Cup, breaking England’s record in 2019. They are quite comfortably the best six-hitting side of this tournament. Look at the power they possess in the middle order - Klaasen, Miller and Markram. And Jansen has also overperformed with the bat in this WC.

de Kock has the most sixes, though from a lot more balls than the other 3. Markram hits a lot of fours but not as many sixes. Miller and Klaasen are cut of different cloth altogether.

They were the 3rd best in the cycle, so maybe batting first 5 times in this tournament has helped their numbers a bit more. And they’ve certainly been the most dangerous batting unit of this tournament, which is reflected in their strike rate and number of 300+ scores batting first.

Marco Jansen shines in the powerplay (CS)

Marco Jansen with the new ball has been a revelation for South Africa. The left-arm pacer has taken a wicket in the first 10 overs in every match so far in the tournament. He took two against Sri Lanka, one against Australia, one against the Netherlands, two against England, two against Bangladesh, two against Pakistan and two against New Zealand.

This is an outrageous haul, considering that the next-best bowler in the powerplay has six scalps. The next best bowler is not Mitchell Starc, Trent Boult or Jasprit Bumrah. Starc and Boult are nowhere near the top 10 with two and three wickets each. Bumrah has been the most economical, going at three runs an over, but he has only managed to bag four. The next best bowler after Jansen is Dilshan Madhushanka with six, followed by Josh Hazelwood with five. His strike rate of 16.08 is by far the best among the top 10 wicket-takers in the first 10 overs.

How did the part-timers do with Henry off? (SAK)

Henry suffered a hamstring injury in the middle of his 6th over and South Africa’s 27th in the first innings. They now needed Neesham, Phillips and Rachin to fill in with the rest of his overs plus the 5th bowlers’ quota as well. Neesham was taken to the cleaners, especially at the deathovers. Phillips was alright in the middle, but SA took him down at the end as well. And Rachin bowled just two overs and went for 17 runs, clearly his bowling is still just a work in progress.

New Zealand chose to win the toss and lose (JK)

So I half heard something about Simon Doull talking about boffins making decisions ahead of cricket people when it came to New Zealand winning the toss and bowling. Because I didn’t hear it all, I can’t be sure this is right. But he seemed to be suggesting that New Zealand had decided to bat first here based on numbers. And that is wild to me because the numbers don’t say that.

We only have ten matches being played at this ground, and coming into today the chasing team won four to the batting team’s five. That’s a small sample size, and it’s pretty close.

In T20s you can see there is a slight bias to batting first, so perhaps if you add up both you would suggest that was the better option. I don’t think I need to show you South Africa’s record of chasing in World Cups again, but it’s pretty bad. So the pitch and opposition suggested New Zealand should bat first.

What about their record? Well, over the last two years, they have been slightly better when batting first, but nothing that makes me worry about their chasing. Plus they chased well the other night.

But as a boffin, I would suggest that everything about this match suggested batting first was the best option. Make 300 plus, and give your bowlers some new ball assistance. If the ball gets dewy hope your backup seamers can help.

New Zealand have different boffin numbers than I do. So perhaps they saw it another way. Maybe it was tactical, why give South Africa practice that might come in handy if you have to play them in a final? But I doubt that, as New Zealand needed this win.

Tom Latham, what’s all that about? (JK)

Tom Latham is an odd ODI player, especially in a team like New Zealand that would seem to have a fairly steady top order. He’s an opener who plays as a strike rotator against the spin at number five. And at the moment he is also captain. With Williamson in the team, his role would make even less sense. Yet New Zealand still give him a lot of ODI cricket.

I don’t think there is anything too wrong with his record. But he averages 35, with an 85 strike rate. One of those should be higher. And he does seem to go through periods where he doesn’t score many runs. He has always felt like to me a player with skill, but who hasn’t cracked the white ball code to do it consistently.

The problem at the moment is he’s in a funk at the wrong time. In the last two years, he has had pretty good numbers. And then this year he has played a buttload of one-dayers and just can’t find the runs.

To me he feels like a level of insurance they don’t need. Almost insurance for their insurance, because they’re not a reckless scoring team, so why do you need so much strike rotating, especially at a mediocre average? It would make more sense when Williamson comes back to get Latham out of the side and pass the gloves to Conway.