With New Zealand entering a semi-final as something more than dark horses for the second time in two years, it falls to Mind the Windows’ resident BLACKCAPS fan Emma Selley to look at how the team got here.
The New Zealand Cricket World Cup sides of 1999, 2007 and 2011 all had something in common: they made the semi-finals, but were expected to go no further. In 1999 they scraped through each round by the skin of their teeth; in 2007 they were outclassed in the semi-final; and in 2011 they only made it past the quarter-finals courtesy of a remarkable South African choke.
Last year was the first time New Zealand approached a knockout match as genuine contenders (at least since the early ’90s), and they’ve backed up this rise in status during the current World T20, with four commanding performances to date.
This is an overview of how New Zealand came to be taking England on in tonight’s semi-final clash.
Game One: India (New Zealand won by 47 runs)
The smash-and-bash technique didn’t work out for New Zealand’s batsmen, and they had to settle for trying to compile a competitive score. A target of 126 appeared to be a straightforward enough chase for India, but Mitchell Santner’s four-wicket haul led the three spinners to take a combined seven wickets, resulting in a New Zealand win by a significant margin.
Game Two: Australia (New Zealand won by 8 runs)
Kane Williamson and Martin Guptill started the innings off well with a 50-run opening stand, but while many batsmen made starts, none particularly carried the innings. However, the Two Mitches routine led the bowling attack to consistently take wickets, and Australia fell just short of New Zealand’s 142.
Game Three: Pakistan (New Zealand won by 22 runs)
Martin Guptill did what Martin Guptill tends to do, and his quick 80 runs set up a sizable score of 180. Pakistan got off to a similarly speedy start and punished the opening bowlers (particularly McClenaghan), but after their opening batsmen were dismissed, they never really looked like chasing down New Zealand’s total.
Game Four: Bangladesh (New Zealand won by 75 runs)
Everything continued to go well for Kane Williamson – he won the toss for the fourth time in a row, and led a responsible team batting effort. While 146 may not seem like a large score, on a slow wicket it proved to be far too much for Bangladesh as the New Zealand spinners continued their dominance in the tournament.
Looking to the Finals
As the only team undefeated in pool play, New Zealand carry some handy form and momentum into the finals (and as an added bonus aren’t carrying any significant injury problems). Though they have been given a ‘home’ semi-final, it is their first time playing at Delhi this tournament – whereas England have already played there twice.
Kane Williamson’s good fortune at the toss has meant New Zealand has batted first in every match this tournament – but if his luck changes it will be interesting to see if they can handle the pressure of chasing a score. His decision-making as captain has been commended for being adaptable and he has successfully varied his bowling attack – with bowlers often only bowling in one over spells.
New Zealand will likely be hoping for a pitch suitable for spin, so Santner, Sodhi, and McCullum can continue to demolish their opposition’s batting line up – however, they have also shown the ability to adapt to pitches less suited to their style of bowling. It has been well documented that Boult and Southee have spent the tournament as professional drinks carriers, and it seems unlikely that they will be called into the playing XI when McClenaghan has been picking up wickets.
After a similar run of form throughout the Cricket World Cup last year, New Zealand will be determined to go one step further and be able to call themselves world champions for the first time. With smart game plans and the ability to execute them, they certainly stand a good chance of doing so.