Auckland, March 23:
New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum on Monday said his message to the team ahead of their cricket World Cup semi-final clash against South Africa will be to put their best foot forward and enjoy the occasion.
Speaking at the pre-match media conference ahead of their Tuesday’s contest, McCullum said: “It will be no different to every other game, I think. We talk a lot about this being the greatest time of our lives and the trip that we’ve been on so far has been one that we’ll all remember.”
“The game is meant to be fun, go out there, express yourself, enjoy the occasion, put our best foot forward, and we’ll see where the cards fall after that.”
On losing their third seamer Adam Milne due to a left heel injury, the skipper said it was disappointing especially given the fact that he has put on such an impressive show with the ball for New Zealand.
“Yeah, it’s obviously disappointing. Adam has been outstanding for us in that third seamer role throughout the tournament. Injuries happen, though, and in the end we’ve got some good cover amongst the squad, as well,” he said.
“It’s really disappointing for Adam. But he’ll remain part of the squad, which is good, because he’s a good team man, as well, good fellow to have around, and it’s disappointing his tournament as such has ended.”
The 33-year-old said his team was looking forward to the battle despite some of them being a little apprehensive about the outcome of the match.
“The boys are pretty excited. Some guys get nervous, yeah. I think any game that you play some guys in your squad get more nervous than others,” he said.
“But I think overall the general feeling is one that we just can’t wait to get out there and display our skills, test our skills against a very good South African team and obviously in a crunch game, as well.”
Comparisons have been drawn between the two sides who have traditionally failed to live up to expectations in World Cups. Both teams are eyeing to make their first final in the event.
McCullum said he expected the team which would handle pressure better to emerge victorious.
“Both teams are playing aggressively, playing an entertaining style of cricket, and both teams are trying to win key moments rather than not lose them. So I think tomorrow will be a great spectacle,” he said.
“I’d expect that the team that is able to handle the crunch situations the best will come out on top, but I would expect that the margin won’t be too far between both teams.” (IANS)