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Miller low key ahead of South Africa’s World Cup semifinal

March 22, 2015

AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) — South Africa batsman David Miller has a talent for deadpan humor.

Asked if he watched New Zealand’s Cricket World Cup quarterfinal against the West Indies on Saturday, and more particularly Martin Guptill’s unbeaten innings of 237, Miller affects a poker face and says “no ... what happened?”

It’s unlikely New Zealand’s 143-run win over the West Indies and Guptill’s record-breaking 163-ball innings haven’t been keen talking points among the Proteas but Miller is keeping things low key ahead of Tuesday’s semifinal at Eden Park. He talks to reporters after a long and relatively leisurely training session at Eden Park but gives away little about the Proteas’ mindset or their perception of New Zealand as opponent.

He even politely parries a question arises about South Africa’s choker tag, which he might have thought buried after their quarterfinal win over Sri Lanka.

That was South Africa’s first-ever win in a Cricket World Cup knockout match and, while it was emphatic, it may not have entirely alleviated the suspicion that they may be vulnerable in Tuesday’s final as they try to go further at the tournament than they have ever gone before.

Miller said South Africa’s past performances have no relevance to its current, relatively young and well-rounded squad which is determined to forge its own history.

“I think this team there are a lot of fresh guys in the side, young guys as well who haven’t been to World Cups before so I think we don’t have a lot of baggage behind us,” he said. “We’re feeling pretty fresh, playing good cricket and guys are coming right at the right time. I’m really excited for Tuesday’s game.”

Miller concedes he’s not oblivious to what New Zealand has achieved at the tournament so far — it’s unbeaten run through seven matches or the manner in which it dealt with the West Indies on Saturday. He’s certainly aware of what Guptill achieved with the highest individual score in World Cup matches, the second-highest in all one-day internationals.

“I didn’t watch a lot of the knock but heard he did really, really well,” he said. “Obviously a double ton is a phenomenal effort for him. He’s had a couple of great knocks now so it’s good on him.”

Miller said he felt confident South Africa had a game plan which would allow it to cope with New Zealand’s aggressive style of play.

“I think we’ve got a game plan over the last year and a half, two years and it’s just about sticking to things and everyone coming through at the right times when the team needs them to do that,” he said.

“Obviously (South Africa’s loss to Pakistan at Eden Park in pool play) wasn’t a great result but the consistency we’ve had as a team for the last year and a half, two years has been phenomenal.”

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