Sports

Semi-final for grown men

MATURE: New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum (above, centre) says his team are respectful of the game and will go about their work against South Africa. PHOTO: AFP

The ugly confrontation that marred New Zealand and South Africa's 2011 World Cup quarter-final is unlikely to be repeated in today's clash at Eden Park because the teams have "grown up", New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum believes.

The World Cup co-hosts play South Africa in the first semi-final in Auckland, with the winners advancing to their first final.

In the 2011 quarter-final at Dhaka, a verbal altercation between players from both teams escalated to an angry shoving match before New Zealand secured a 49-run victory.

"We obviously had a bit of a stoush (altercation) with them four years ago," McCullum, who played in that game, said at Eden Park yesterday.

"I think both teams have grown up immensely in that time and we're different teams and play the game in a different spirit.

"Verbals are not how we want to play the game.

"Other teams like that sort of thing but, for us, we're not good enough to have that as our focus. We have to make sure that we're respectful of the game and go about our work."

McCullum's side have gone through the tournament unbeaten and have a strong record against the Proteas in World Cup matches, having won four 
of their six games at the global showpiece, including the last three in succession.

In recent matches, South Africa comfortably won two games last October before New Zealand rebounded with a World Cup warm-up win in the lead-up.

"They came over here, they touched us up a little bit in the opening couple of games we had in our home summer and then we obviously had a good win against them in a warm-up game down in Christchurch," he said.

"(But) I think the warm-up game doesn't have a great deal of relevance because times have changed since then.

"I don't think much separates both teams and it will come down to a pretty small margin and it will be the team that grab that opportunity that will come out on top.

"It should be a great contest and one everyone's looking forward to it."

- Reuters.