Another Semifinal Loss
New Zealand and South Africa have suffered plenty of heart breaks in World Cup Tournaments. While New Zealand has one World Cup title (2021 Test Championship) and one global tournament title (2000 ICC Champions trophy), South Africa has one global tournament title (1998 ICC Champions trophy) and zero World Cup titles.
If someone wanted to know the reason behind their incapability to win 50 over World Cup title, the two Semifinals of 2023 World Cup was more than enough to understand them.
Let us not get too harsh on New Zealand
Till 2014, New Zealand had never reached the finals of 50 over World Cup, but then they made two out of two. In 2015, they lost against the host Australia, after the entire country stopped to watch them,play their first ever final.
Four years later, in 2019, they suffered the biggest heartbreak, a tied final in which they lost the title due to boundary count.
In the current edition, the team reached the semi-finals by playing decent cricket, albeit not outstanding. In 9 matches prior to the Semifinals, the team had a record of 5-4 in 9 games.
It is also correct that they lost a few close games against Australia and Pakistan and were the only team which had ran India close in the league game. It is, however, worth mentioning that the team didn’t look assertive in crunch moments when they were required to assert pressure on the opposition.
Not able to seal the decisive moments
Against India, the team was coasting at 205-3 after 36.4 overs and looked they would score at least 110-115 in the last 13.2 overs, something that would have ensured a score of 320. Instead, the side suffered a slump during which they could score only 68-7 and were all out for 273. Against Australia, the team jousted hard but it was also a fact that an extra urgency might have sealed the game. Similarly, against Pakistan, the side lost the match after scoring 400 runs. Yes, they were unlucky as the rain didn’t let them to bowl full quota of overs, but there were no two thoughts that the Kiwi bowlers bowled trash to Pakistani batsmen that day.
Against India in the semifinal, the bowlers just didn’t show up. Yes, the Indian batting is dynamic and at home they are at the next level, but giving away 397 runs in 50 overs was not at all acceptable. In spite of this, if New Zealand was in the game till 32.1 overs at 220-2 (needing 178 off 107 deliveries with 8 wickets in hand, which is possible in the era of T20 cricket), credit goes to their batsmen.
New Zealand at one stage was 295-4 after 42.4 overs. Had the bowlers bowled marginally better and ensured that India’s score was between 350-355, they would have been required to score 55-60 off the last 44 balls, which was much more manageable with 6 wickets in hand, but some horrendous bowling by the bowlers which gave away almost 40-45 runs extra, extinguishedthe team’s chances.
What lies ahead for the team and players? The next significant One day International event will be the Champions Trophy in 2025, which will be played in Pakistan; it will be interesting to see whether the likes of Kane Williamson, Tim Southee and Trent Boult will continue for another two years or whether they will focus on their respective Test careers.
On the other hand, it might be time for a change off guard in limited overs leadership with Tom Latham being appointed as the captain. The team will switch its focus on Test cricket for the next few months with important endeavors lined up.
Till then the fans can keep on pondering what could be done to ensure thatNew Zealand wins a limited over World Cup.