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McCullum relishing the big occasion ahead of semi-final showdown

Official News · 

New Zealand take on South Africa in the last four of the Cricket World Cup on Tuesday, with both sides aiming to reach their maiden final.

Between them, the two countries have featured in nine semi-finals over the tournament's history, but each time they have fallen short of making it to the showpiece.

Tuesday's meeting at Eden Park is a repeat of the 2011 quarter-final, which saw New Zealand prevail by 49 runs, and the co-hosts come into this game in superb form having won all of their matches at this year's tournament.

After topping Pool A with six wins from six, a brutal 237 not out from Martin Guptill inspired them to a 143-run success over West Indies in the last eight on Saturday.

New Zealand suffered a blow with the news that pace bowler Adam Milne has been ruled out of the tournament with a heel injury, but captain Brendon McCullum is looking ahead to the game with great enthusiasm.

"I think overall the general feeling is one that we just can't wait to get out there and display our skills, test our skills against a very good South African team and obviously in a crunch game, as well," he said.

"I think the way we dealt with expectations of the last game and the pressures that had in itself, that should hold us in reasonable stead."

Matt Henry has been called up as a replacement for Milne and he will battle Kyle Mills and Mitchell McClenaghan for a spot in the starting XI.

McCullum's opposite number AB de Villiers said it would be difficult to change a winning side after their crushing nine-wicket win over Sri Lanka in their quarter-final, and the skipper is trying to alleviate the pressure on his players as they aim to make it fourth time lucky in a World Cup semi.

"It's a very important game. I think it's right up there with one of the most important games I've ever played," he said.

"There's been some very, very special moments in my career, so it's difficult to say that it's the most important game of my life.

"I'm not going to put too much emphasis and importance on this game, even know we know what it's all about. I think the guys know enough.

"[There is] No need to motivate them too much and tell them the importance of tomorrow. We know how important it is. It's a huge occasion for us."

European World Cup Qualifiers

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