Four years after New Zealand beat South Africa in a spiteful World Cup clash, rival captains Brendon McCullum and AB de Villiers are pledging nothing but niceness on the eve of a crucial semi-final.
In the 2011 edition, their quarter-final in Dhaka erupted as the New Zealanders, who made 222, sprayed the South Africans with a verbal barrage as they lost five for 25 on their way to a 49-run defeat.
There were ugly scenes after de Villiers was run out leading to Kyle Mills, Dan Vettori and Faf du Plessis being fined for their roles in the incident.
Ahead of this World Cup, du Plessis was quoted as saying if the two teams met again in a knockout match “this time it will be the other way around. We’ll be the team that’s on top, and we can do the same to them”.
But de Villiers attempted to smooth the way Monday, ahead of the clash that will propel either South Africa or New Zealand into a World Cup final for the first time.
If New Zealand started any trouble, he expected his side to ignore it, he said.
“New Zealand is normally a gentleman-like team to play against but sometimes they do go out and go for what they want. We are expecting that. I don’t think there will be too much tomorrow, but we will take whatever comes our way. I personally don’t like to get too involved.
“It’s all about the confidence and the body language. I think I say enough by the way I go about my business as a person and a player and I am expecting the team to be the same.”
McCullum claimed New Zealand were not interested in stirring up ill-feeling on the field.
“We obviously had a bit of a stoush with them four years ago. I think both teams have grown up immensely since that time and we’re different teams and play the game in different spirit,” he said.
“I would expect us to go out there and focus purely on displaying our skills, trying to be as good as we can with ball, bat and in the field and leaving nothing out there in terms of heart and our soul and in trying to be as desperate as we can.
“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.