In fact, history has an interesting tale to tell about the rivalry between New Zealand and South Africa. This is the third consecutive edition where the Black Caps have been responsible for the exit of the Proteas from the World Cup.
In the past two editions it happened during the quarter-finals and semi-finals, but this year it occurred during the group stage match. Let us look at how the Proteas have fared against their bogeyman opponents over the years:
2011 World Cup: New Zealand won by 49 runs
In the third quarter-final of the 2011 World Cup, New Zealand batted first and lost both the openers cheaply. But a gritty partnership between Jesse Ryder (83 runs off 121 balls) and Ross Taylor (43 runs off 72 balls) bought them back into the game.
Kane Williamson (38 runs off 41 balls) scored some runs during the latter part of the innings which helped them post 221 runs on the board.
Chasing 222 for victory, South Africa were at a comfortable position of 108/2 after the 24 over mark. But Jacob Oram (9-1-39-4) and Nathan McCullum (10-1-24-3) ran through the Protean middle-order and they were eventually all out for 172.
Oram was the player of the match for his impressive bowling spell of 9-1-39-4.
2015 World Cup: New Zealand won by 4 wickets
In the first semi-final of the 2015 World Cup, South Africa came out to bat first. Even though they lost the Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock early, Faf du Plessis (82 runs from 107 balls) and Rilee Rossouw (39 runs from 53 balls) built a handy partnership in the middle overs which laid the platform for AB de Villiers (65 runs from 45 balls) and David Miller (49 runs from 18 balls) to unleash in the slog overs.
In the rain-affected match, the target for New Zealand was 298 from 43 overs. Martin Guptill (34 runs from 38 balls) and Brendon McCullum (59 runs from 26 balls) gave a dream start to the Kiwis as they scored 71 runs from the first 6 overs.
Even though they lost wickets at regular intervals, Grant Elliott made sure that New Zealand remained victorious in the end. Elliott was awarded the Man of the match award for his match winning knock of 84 from 73 balls.
2019 World Cup: New Zealand won by 4 wickets
During the group stage match between South Africa and New Zealand, it was a must-win game for South Africa as they had lost their first three games against England, Bangladesh and India. The 4th game against West Indies ended without a result due to rain. They won the 5th game against Afghanistan by 9 wickets and they couldn’t afford to lose any more matches if they hoped to progress to the semi-finals.
Batting first, South Africa scored a fighting total of 241 on a tough pitch with the help of half-centuries from Hashim Amla (55 runs from 83 balls) and Rassie van der Dussen (67 runs from 64 balls).
Chasing 242, New Zealand were at one stage 80/4, but Kane Williamson played a captain’s knock and led them from the front with his gritty 106 from 138 balls. Colin de Grandhomme with a 47 ball 60 eased the pressure off Williamson and gave him the liberty to leave good balls.
With 8 runs required off the last over, Williamson finished it off with a six and four off consecutive deliveries. This defeat all but shut down the hopes of South Africa to get into the semi-finals.
Williamson was awarded the Man of the match award for his unbeaten century.
South Africa also lost to New Zealand at the Super 8 stage of the 2007 World Cup, although that didn’t knock them out of the tournament (they went on to lose in the semifinals to Australia). The Proteas haven’t defeated the Kiwis at the World Cup since 1999, and it seems clear they have a mental block against this particular opposition.