A field day for the Black Caps?

8:39 am on 24 March 2015

New Zealand cricket fans can finally allow themselves to dream; a World Cup final is within touching distance.

After six previous trips to the semi-finals ... will it be seventh time lucky for the Black Caps when they play South Africa at Eden Park today?

Black Caps captain Brendon McCullum and coach Mike Hesson.

Black Caps captain Brendon McCullum and coach Mike Hesson. Photo: Photosport

On tournament form, they deserve to make the final, and that was underscored by the thumping win over the West Indies in the quarter-final.

The Black Caps are so far unbeaten, seven games on the trot, extending their overall winning run to nine games.

Just one other side has managed an unbeaten run at the tournament: India, who play Australia in the other semi-final.

What was most encouraging about the win over the Windies was that it was achieved without major batting contributions from Brendon McCullum and Kane Williamson.

Martin Guptill's imperious double century showed that the confidence and self-belief McCullum and coach Mike Hesson have been trying to grow is taking root.

Martin Guptill salutes the Wellington Stadium crowd after bringing up his double century.

Martin Guptill salutes the Wellington Stadium crowd after bringing up his double century. Photo: Photosport

Keeping things the same has been the mantra for the Black Caps.

Their planning and the implementation of game plans has been meticulous, and should be applauded.

The big question is whether that organisation, and the ability to stick to a blueprint, is enough for this side to create history.

McCullum has long maintained his side is not good enough to go off-script and improvise.

Wise words when you look at the Black Caps record against the South Africans.

Of the ten completed ODI's the two teams have played against one another since September 2009, the Black Caps have won just three.

It's interesting to compare the career averages of the likes of Martin Guptill and Ross Taylor to those of their innings against South Africa.

Guptill's career average is 40 but he averages only 11 against the Proteas. Taylor's career average is 41 but against South Africa it's 32.

But not all is lost.

The Black Caps have enjoyed much better success against South Africa at World Cups - winning six games of the 10 they've played against the Proteas.

The South Africans have also been far from convincing at this tournament, losing two pool matches against India and Pakistan although they did ominously dispose of Sri Lanka in the quarter-finals by nine wickets.

They have traditionally struggled at the tournament, never having won the title, and their win over Sri Lanka was the first time ever they'd managed to win an elimination match at the tournament.

Daniel Vettori leaps high to catch Marlon Samuels out.

Daniel Vettori leaps high to catch Marlon Samuels out. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

New Zealand players figure much more prominently in the tournament statistics compared to their South African counterparts.

Guptill has the tournament high score, and sits second on the most runs scored at the tournament . Left arm fast bowler Trent Boult is the tournament's leading wicket taker, while Tim Southee has the best bowling figures in a match.

But this Black Caps side is better than the sum of its parts. There is joie de vivre in this side.

Witness the mobbing of Dan Vettori by his team mates after he took his spectacular one handed leaping catch in Wellington.

Fielding is often an indication of how a team is travelling. Watching four players converge on the ball as they desperately tried to cut off a boundary when victory over the the Windies was assured, shows this side is committed.

The South Africans were expected to dominate at this tournament, but they've been going under the radar to a degree.

AB de Villiers is the best performed of the South African batsman but their strike bowlers Morne Morkel and Dale Steyne haven't figured prominently.

In fact, it's their spinner Imran Tahir who is the Proteas leading wicket taker.

So with South Africa a little off their best and the Black Caps in top gear, maybe, just maybe, the Black Caps can make history and advance to their first world cup final.

But don't get too emotionally invested in it. After all, we've down this road before; six times, in fact.

New Zealand's semi-finals at previous World Cups

  • 1975: lost to West Indies at Kennington Oval, London.NZ - 158 all out, Glenn Turner 36, Geoff Howarth 51. West Indies 156-5,Alvin Kallicharan 72, Gordon Greenidge 55.
  • 1979: lost to England at Old Trafford in Manchester.England 221-8. Graham Gooch 71, Mike Brearley 53. New Zealand 212-9.
  • 1992: lost to Pakistan, Eden Park, Auckland.New Zealand 262-7, M Crowe 93, K Rutheford 50.
  • Pakistan 264-6, Inzamam -ul-Haq 60, Javed Miandad 57*

  • 1999: lost to Pakistan, Old Trafford, Manchester.New Zealand 241-7, Roger Twose 46. Pakistan 242-1, Saeed Anwar 113*
  • 2007: lost to Sri Lanka, Sabina Park, Kingston, Jamaica.Sri Lanka 289-5, Mahela Jayawardene 115* New Zealand 208 - Peter Fulton 46.
  • 2011: lost to Sri Lanka, Premadasa Stadium Colombo.New Zealand 217 all out, S Styris 57. Sri Lanka 220-5.