Birmingham   -   South Africa, who registered their first win of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup by defeating Afghanistan by nine wickets, will face a much stiffer challenge when they take on New Zealand at Edgbaston on Wednesday.

It was Grant Elliot’s famous “hit into the grandstand” in an enthralling climax which ended South Africa’s World Cup campaign in 2015 and powered New Zealand to their first ever appearance at the finals. While stakes might not be as high for New Zealand when they take the field on Wednesday, for South Africa, the result would determine their contention for the race to the semi-finals.

New Zealand started their World Cup campaign with three consecutive wins before their fixture against India ended in a wash-out at Trent Bridge. The bowlers have been in prime form, having restricted the opposition to a below-par total on each occasion, making things easier for the batsmen. The middle-order, which failed considerably against Bangladesh before Mitchell Santner finished the job, will be put to a stiff test against South Africa.

South Africa, destabilized after three consecutive defeats, put on a complete performance to register a nine-wicket win over Afghanistan in their last game. While Imran Tahir produced another match-winning spell as he picked up four wickets, the century-stand put on by the openers was probably the greatest positive for the Proteas. The top-order will have to shoulder responsibility yet again, as they will be up against an in-form New Zealand bowling unit. Lungi Ngidi, who has been declared match fit after he missed last three games due to hamstring injury, is likely to replace Beuran Hendricks in the playing XI.

Skipper Kane Williamson has been in prime form, scoring 40 and 79* in his last two innings after aggregating 152 runs in the two warm-up games. Williamson, who scored a century in his last outing at Edgbaston, will once again look to play a long innings.

Kagiso Rabada, the 24-year-old, has been a strike bowler for South Africa for the last few years, leading the pace battery in the absence of Dale Steyn. Rabada, who averages 19.82 with the ball against New Zealand, will look to produce a match-winning spell in this all-important game.

“I don’t think we are going out there to be the nice guys of world cricket or put on a front of any sorts. We are just being genuine in being who we are and I think we just play the game in good spirits really. It’s just a game in my opinion and it’s about enjoying it. I think that’s why a lot of guys and girls and kids follow the team, because we just go out and have fun,” said Trent Boult on if the perception about New Zealand being ‘nice guys’ can hold the team back.

“Imran has been a star for this team. He has proven to world cricket how well he can perform, even when he is under pressure. This is his last World Cup, but he is loving every minute still, which is amazing. He’s got great passion and what an example he is for any young cricketer,” said South Africa spin coach Claude Henderson on the ‘Tahir factor’.

It will be a cloudy start to the day with chances of some light rain showers.  However, it should become increasingly dry and bright as the day wears on. Teams batting first have won three of the last four completed games at Edgbaston.