World T20 team : One bad game ends New Zealand’s title bid


New Zealand was the first team to book the semi-final spot in the tournament, on March 22, after beating India, Australia and Pakistan in their first three Group 2 games of the Super 10 stage. Four days later they defeated Bangladesh to become the only team in the Super 10 stage to win all their four group matches.

The Kiwis started their campaign on the right note, beating hosts and pre-tournament favourites India by 47 runs. In a low-scoring drama in Nagpur, India bowled superbly to stop New Zealand at 126/7, but the host team was bamboozled by the three New Zealand spinners – Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi and Nathan McCullum – in their chase as the trio helped their team bundle out India for 79 in 18.1 overs. The next was the Trans-Tasman contest in Dharamsala, where the Kiwis managed to put a decent total of 142/8, which looked short by a few runs. But the Australian chase was outdone by brilliant bowling performances from pacer Mitchell McClenaghan (3/17) and spinner Santner (2/30). The two Mitchells left Australia (134/9) short by eight runs in the end.

New Zealand secured the passage to the next round when they defeated Pakistan by 22 runs in Mohali. It was a high-scoring affair with the Black Caps posting 180/5, riding on Martin Guptill’s brilliant 80 off 48 balls, before restricting Pakistan to 158/5. After securing the semi-final spot, they played arguably the weakest team in the group, Bangladesh, and stamped their authority by registering a thumping 75-run victory. Batting first, New Zealand set a 146-run target and later Grant Elliott (3/12) and Sodhi (3/21) helped the Kiwis bundle out Bangladesh for 70 in 15.4 overs.

But all their Super 10 heroics proved inadequate when they played England for a spot in the final at the Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi. They had a good start and reached 100/2 in 12.2 overs, but were choked by Ben Stokes (3/26) led English attack in the last seven overs as they managed to score 153/8 in the end. Then Jason Roy scored a match-winning 44-ball 78 to push England to the final with a comfortable seven-wicket victory, thus ending the marvellous New Zealand journey in the tournament.

High Points: New Zealand were on a high after the Super 10 stage as they finished the difficult group without any blemish. They won all their four group games quite comprehensively, with the only exception being a close eight-run win over Australia. They round up their Super 10 affairs as the only team in the tournament to win all four games and they were the first to book a ticket to next round.

Low points: It has to be their timid finish to their campaign in the semi-final against England. They were going strong till the third wicket fell for 107 in 13.2 overs, as they lost six wickets for 46 runs in the final 46 balls to manage a below-par 153/8 in 20 overs. England chased down the target comfortably with seven wickets and 17 balls to spare in the end.

Major disappointment: Batsmen were the major flops for New Zealand as they failed to click in unison in most of their matches. They scored only one fifty in five innings which was scored by Martin Guptill, 80 against Pakistan in their only high-scoring game. The biggest disappointment of all was their senior batsman Ross Taylor, who was supposed to lead the batting after the retirement of Brendon McCullum. Taylor scored just 91 runs at 22.75 in five innings, and that too with a strike rate of 113.75.

 Verdict: There were a lot of similarities in New Zealand’s team of 2015 ICC World Cup and of 2016 World T20, as they both zoomed past their opponents in the initial rounds but fizzled out in the knock-outs quite tamely. At least last year, they bowed out in the final, this year they couldn’t even make it the summit clash after crashing out in the semi-finals. But the team is in some sort of transition and the emergence of youngsters like Santner and Sodhi will boost their morale for the future events. They had one bad game, or rather bad seven overs while batting, and their hopes of winning a big-ticket ICC event – since Champions Trophy in 2000, got shattered. Sometimes cricket can be cruel that way.

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