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  5. NRR to the rescue! New Zealand's road to 2019 World Cup semi-finals

NRR to the rescue! New Zealand's road to 2019 World Cup semi-finals

Starting the tournament with a bang to an undefeated streak, New Zealand's world was turned upside down and nearly were out of contention for the semis spot, but it was the NRR that saved them.

Rishabh Gupta Rishabh Gupta
New Delhi Updated on: July 08, 2019 12:58 IST
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New Zealand cricket team

New Zealand began their World Cup campaign with a bang, but as the side entered the final stages of the group games, the weak links began to make an adverse impact more significantly. The batting order’s over-reliance on Kane Williamson came to surface as Kiwis were left fighting for the final spot in the semifinals against Pakistan.

During this time, the narrative had turned rather ugly against the New Zealand, as they were seen as the easiest to take on in the semifinals of the World Cup. After their win against Australia in the final game of the group stage, Faf du Plessis even went on to say that India will be happy with their result (India needed a South African win to set up a semifinal clash against New Zealand).

Kane Williamson’s men will be raring to give a fitting reply in the semifinal at Manchester. As they prepare for the game against India, let’s take a look at New Zealand’s road to the semifinals:

New Zealand vs Sri Lanka:

There couldn’t have been a better start for the Kiwis. The side cruised to a 10-wicket victory against Sri Lanka, who seemed more disjointed than the scoreline suggested.

Sri Lanka were bowled out for 136, with captain Dimuth Karunaratne carrying the bat at 52. Lockie Ferguson and Matt Henry were brilliant with the ball, taking three wickets each. Martin Guptill and Colin Munro chased the target in the 17th over of the game, with the former scoring at the strike rate of over 140.

New Zealand vs Bangladesh:

Bangladesh gave the top teams a run for their money in the 2019 World Cup. While they failed to make the semifinals, Mashrafe Mortaza’s men undoubtedly made an exit with their heads held high.

Shakib Al Hasan, who couldn’t put a foot wrong for the side in this campaign, was the top-scorer for the side with 64 as the Kiwis bowled Bangladesh out on 244. The target may have looked easy, but Bangladesh’s bowlers posed a tough fight to defend the modest total.

Ross Taylor’s 82, along with significant contributions from Williamson, Neesham and Santner helped New Zealand survive the scare, as they registered a 2-wicket victory.

New Zealand vs Afghanistan:

This was one of the easier games for New Zealand, unlike their opponents in the semifinals. Thanks to James Neesham’s five-for, the BlackCaps bowled Afghanistan out for 172. 

Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson top-scored for New Zealand again, after the openers failed to provide a desired start. The target was significantly smaller for Afghanistan to pose a threat, but the shortcomings in the New Zealand batting order began to come to surface by this time.

New Zealand vs India:

This match was abandoned due to rain.

New Zealand vs South Africa:

South Africa had a tournament to forget, and by the time they faced New Zealand, they had lost 3 of their 5 games in the tournament, with one abandoned. Their elimination was almost confirmed after a century from Kane Williamson helped New Zealand to a 4-wicket win.

Rassie van der Dussen’s 67* helped South Africa to 241 under the cloud cover at Edgbaston. New Zealand didn’t exactly have a cakewalk in the chase, as their batting order faced a collapse. Munro, Taylor and Latham scored a combined total of 11 runs, but Kane Williamson (106*) stuck at one end to see New Zealand through to victory. 

New Zealand vs West Indies:

In the years to come, the game between New Zealand and West Indies will achieve an almost mythical status, with Carlos Brathwaite attaining the status of a tragic hero who almost took the West Indies to an unbelievable victory.

Kane Williamson, once again, was at the top of his game after both the openers departed for a duck. The skipper slammed 148, and Ross Taylor (68) powered New Zealand to 291. West Indies began the chase shakily, losing 2 wickets within 20 runs. Hetmyer’s half-century was followed by a bigger collapse, which had almost turned the tide in favour of the Kiwis.

Carlos Brathwaite, then, began a absolute carnage at Old Trafford, scoring 101 off 82 balls. However, the similar attacking mindset led to his, and Windies’ downfall, as the side fell 5 runs short of the total.

Trent Boult was highly economical in pressure situations, conceding only 30 in 10 overs and taking 4 crucial wickets.

New Zealand vs Pakistan:

The weaknesses were increasingly becoming exposed with each passing game, and this was the match where they finally resulted in a loss for the Kiwis. Kane Williamson failed with the bat and half of the New Zealand side was back in the pavilion at a meagre score of 83. 

James Neesham saved the Kiwis from embarrassment, putting 97* on the board to steer them to a respectable total of 237. The Kiwi bowlers, unaided by the conditions, found it difficult to restrict the Pakistan batsmen as Babar Azam’s century helped the side achieve a six-wicket victory.

New Zealand vs Australia:

Trent Boult may have garnered personal headlines for his hattrick against Australia, but the Kiwis’ poor form continued. On the slow pitch at Lord’s, New Zealand restricted the Aussies to 243.

Unluckily for them, by the time they came to bat, the pitch had become too slow for the batsman to exploit its tendencies. A hapless Kiwi batting order was bundled inside 150, rendering an 86-run loss.

Kane Williamson, again, top scored for the side with 40.

New Zealand vs England:

England batted first in what seemed to be a batting paradise, and if there’s one lesson for Australia from the 2019 World Cup, it was this – never let England bat first if you win the toss. 

England put 305 in 50 overs, with more than half of the runs scored by the openers, Jonny Bairstow and Jason Roy. Bairstow scored a century, while Roy smashed fifty. New Zealand seemed to have given up the moment Jimmy Neesham as the fifth wicket, and played with more caution to reduce the damage of an NRR-fall. They eventually lost by 119 runs, but proceeded to the semifinals regardless. 

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