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All-rounder Chris Morris staged a tactical semi-retreat yesterday following team-mate Andile Phehlukwayo's comments after his side's first win at the tournament - a nine-wicket win against minnow Afghanistan in Cardiff earlier this week.
''We've played against New Zealand a couple of times, and I think the last time we were there we won [and] against them at home, so I think mentally we already have that upper hand,'' Phehlukwayo said.
The Proteas beat the Black Caps 3-2 in New Zealand two years ago and 2-1 at home in 2015.
However, the Black Caps have a 5-2 advantage in World Cup clashes, and have tipped South Africa out of the last two tournaments. The Proteas were favourites on both occasions, so it is a brave player who would claim a mental edge on such evidence.
Certainly, Morris was not in the mood to stoke the flames yesterday, choosing to talk up the New Zealanders.
''They are one of the favourites, to be honest,'' Morris said.
''I don't want to call them dark horses, because they deserve more than that. They are a really good, world-class team. Our disciplines are going to be have to be even tighter against them because there's nowhere to hide from those guys.
''They've got a seriously good bowling attack, a seriously good batting line-up. If they get going, they are difficult to stop.''
South Africa has the difficult task of turning one win from five games into a semifinal berth.
''We have to win. That possibly could bring out the best in us because we know there's nowhere to slip up.''
The situation is far less critical for the Black Caps. They might get through with two wins from their next five games.
The best chance of securing those two wins is in the next three games. After South Africa tonight, the Black Caps play the West Indies at Old Trafford on Sunday and Pakistan at Edgbaston on Wednesday.
They finish the round-robin stage with tough games against Australia and England. Kane Williamson's men will not be wanting to be in the position of having to win one of those games to make the semifinals.
England has batting depth to spare and Australia has timed its resurgence perfectly for the tournament it has won five times.
South Africa's attack has been bolstered by the return of Lungi Ngidi, who has been sidelined with a hamstring injury he picked up earlier in the tournament.
Black Caps batting coach Craig McMillan said New Zealand should have a full squad to pick from.
Henry Nicholls and Tim Southee were not available earlier in the tournament due to niggles, but are expected to be fit.
Whether they come into the starting XI ''is a conversation for the coach and captain to have''.
Nicholls has been touted as a potential replacement for Colin Munro at the top of the order, but McMillan felt Munro had shown good intent and ''played very well in that first game against Sri Lanka''.
''But the great thing is we have other options in the side if that is the way the captain and coach want to go down.''
Showers are forecast for Birmingham tonight.
All-rounder Shakib Al Hasan scored his second century in as many World Cup matches and Liton Das cracked an unbeaten 94 as Bangladesh thumped twice champion West Indies by seven wickets yesterday.
Chasing 322 for a famous victory, Shakib took complete control with an unbeaten 124 off 99 deliveries, as his ninth ODI century guided Bangladesh home with 51 balls to spare.
The 32-year-old became the second Bangladesh player to pass 6000 runs in ODIs after Tamim Iqbal, making his fourth consecutive 50-plus score to move past Australia skipper Aaron Finch as the tournament's top scorer with 384 runs.
''To stay at the wicket till the end was most satisfying,'' man of the match Shakib said after leading the second highest successful run chase in World Cup history, matching Bangladesh's effort against Scotland four years ago.
Only Ireland has chased down a bigger total when it scored 329 for seven to beat England in 2011.
After Bangladesh started strongly through openers Tamim (48) and Soumya Sarkar (29), Shakib and Das added 189 runs for the fourth wicket to take the game away from West Indies.
West Indies opener Shai Hope had made a patient 96, while opener Evin Lewis and Shimron Hetmyer also made half-centuries to help the Caribbean side post 321 for eight after being asked to bat first.
Bangladesh, which is fifth in the table with five points, meets holder Australia tomorrow night.
England opener Jason Roy will miss at least two World Cup games due to a hamstring injury.
Roy suffered a hamstring tear in Saturday's win over West Indies and captain Eoin Morgan confirmed James Vince would replace the opener for matches again Afghanstan (last night) and Sri Lanka (tomorrow).
''I certainly believe Jason will play again in this tournament,'' Morgan told reporters.
''At the moment he's going to be assessed continuously over the course of the next week. He's out of the next two games. So we'll see how he pulls up after that.''
- Additional reporting Reuters