March 21, 2015

The Cricket World Cup began on Feb. 14 with 14 teams. More than a month later, the tournament has been reduced to four countries including defending champion India, four-time winner Australia and its co-host New Zealand, and South Africa.

''The best four teams are in the semifinals, and I don't think many people could disagree with that,'' New Zealand coach Mike Hesson said Sunday.

Here's a quick guide to the semifinals. The winners advance to the final on Sunday, March 29 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground:


New Zealand vs. South Africa

Tuesday, March 24

Eden Park

Auckland, New Zealand (0100 GMT)

SO FAR: Co-host New Zealand hasn't lost a match in winning Pool A and then defeating the West Indies by 143 runs in the quarterfinals. South Africa lost two of its six pool matches to finish second in Pool B and also had a comfortable win in the quarterfinals, beating Sri Lanka by nine wickets.

THE STARS: For New Zealand, Martin Guptill has been exceptional, scoring a World Cup-record 237 not out in Saturday's win over the West Indies. He has scored 498 runs in seven innings and is second only to Sri Lanka's Kumar Sangakkara's 541 in the scoring standings. New Zealand's Trent Boult leads all wicket-takers with 19 while teammates Daniel Vettori and Tim Southee have added 15 each. For South Africa, A.B. de Villiers has tallied 417 runs and is always a threat at the crease. Legspinner Imran Tahir has taken 15 wickets for the Proteas, while Morne Morkel has added 14.

QUOTABLE: ''We've got a lot of scouting to do of a quality South African side:'' Guptill on the semifinal opposition.

''It was a big-pressure game, and we just showed everyone that we can do it:'' de Villiers after South Africa ended its decades-long streak of never winning a knockout match at the World Cup.


Australia vs. India

Thursday, March 26

Sydney Cricket Ground

Sydney (0330 GMT)

SO FAR: After a lackluster test series and one-day tri-series tournament in Australia in which India couldn't manage a win, the defending champions have been perfect at the World Cup, winning all six preliminary matches to finish first in Pool B and then beating Bangladesh by 109 runs in the quarterfinals. Australia lost by one wicket to New Zealand and only received a point for a washed-out match against Bangladesh to finish second to the Kiwis in Pool A. The co-hosts beat Pakistan by six wickets in the quarterfinals.

THE STARS: India opener Shikhar Dhawan is among the tournament leaders with 367 runs scored while Mohammed Shami has taken 17 wickets, placing him third among all bowlers in the tournament so far. Australia has received contributions from a number of batsmen in its lineup, but none feature among the top 10 scorers, while left-arm fast bowler Mitchell Starc is second to Boult among leading wicket takers with 18.

QUOTABLE: ''Australia's batting is encouraging for Indian pacers. They can put pressure on the Aussie lineup:'' retired Indian batsman V.V.S. Laxman.

''They've worked out conditions and they've spent so much time here. I think M.S. Dhoni deserves a lot of credit the way he's been able to turn things around as the leader, as the captain. They're playing some really good cricket, there's no doubt about it:'' Australia captain Michael Clarke on the semifinal opposition.

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