Rob Walter’s team are second on the World Cup standings, where they sit just two points above New Zealand. A win on Wednesday can propel them into the semis.
The Springboks may have edged out the All Blacks to lift their fourth Rugby World Cup crown the past weekend, but the South African rivalry against New Zealand continues on Wednesday in Pune.
The Proteas and Black Caps go head-to-head in another crunch Cricket World Cup tie at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium.
Rob Walter’s team are second on the World Cup standings, where they sit just two points above New Zealand. Both teams are seeking a victory to ensure semi-final qualification.
𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗕𝗮𝘁𝘁𝗹𝗲 𝗕𝗲𝘁𝘄𝗲𝗲𝗻 𝟮𝗻𝗱 & 𝟯𝗿𝗱
The Proteas looking to dampen the Black Caps spirits with a victory in Pune 🇿🇦🇳🇿
— Proteas Men (@ProteasMenCSA) November 1, 2023
South Africa will certainly be leaning on Walter for his expertise as the 48-year-old spent seven years coaching both the Otago Volts and Central Stags in New Zealand prior to his Proteas appointment earlier this year.
In fact, Walter and his family still live in New Zealand.
His insight will be invaluable in trying to unlock a Kiwi team that despite not having the greatest amount of playing resources, have transformed into renowned tournament specialists.
New Zealand have contested the last two World Cup finals in 2015 and 2019, the T20 World Cup final in Dubai in 2021; and were crowned the ICC Test Championship champions after beating India, also in 2021.
“The New Zealand side has gone beyond the time when people couldn’t understand how they achieved the results they achieve. They are a very good side now,” Walter said yesterday.
“I don’t see many holes in their make-up, lots of depth in many positions for the most part, highly experienced cricketers that have played in a lot of World Cup finals across different formats.
“They understand how to win games of cricket because you don’t just get to semi-finals and finals of competitions consecutively without doing something right.
“The strength of their cricket is that guys have to play a lot of domestic cricket to get a shot, and a guy like Daryl (Mitchell) is a great example of that. I played against him from my first year in New Zealand, but it’s only over the past two years that he’s become an unbelievable international cricketer.
“But there is some local knowledge of their players. I’ve worked with a fair number of them, and played against all of them. They’ve played really good cricket, but we have a little bit of inside info on them and see how that stacks up on the day.”
🧐 Lazer focused on the New Zealand challenge
— Proteas Men (@ProteasMenCSA) October 31, 2023
Walter will certainly be plotting how to restrict arguably the find of the tournament in Rachin Ravindra.
The curly-haired all-rounder, who is named after Indian legends Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid, has been in scintillating form since the tournament opener where he struck an unbeaten 123 against reigning champions England in Ahmedabad.
It was no one-off performance from the 23-year-old as he has followed it up with two further half-centuries and another sparkling century against Australia in Dharamshala last Saturday to take his tournament tally to over 400 runs.
Walter is certainly well aware of the threat Ravindra poses on Wednesday.
“I have played against Rachin for the last five years, and took the New Zealand A side to India roughly the same time last year, and Rachin was on that tour, so I know him pretty well,” he said.
“He works very hard on his game, pretty much harder than young cricketers I know. Loves the game, fully invested in the game.
“To be honest, I am not very surprised to see the results he has delivered at this World Cup. He has worked exceptionally hard just to get a chance.”
The Proteas will welcome back Kagiso Rabada to keep a check on Ravindra and Co as he has recovered from his mild back injury that kept him out of their last match against Pakistan.