New Zealand wary of semi-final bid being washed away
BENGALURU: New Zealand captain Kane Williamson insisted Wednesday his team will “focus on cricket” when they face a potentially make-or-break clash with Sri Lanka, shrugging off fears that rain may return to wash away their World Cup dreams.
Williamson’s team lost a rain-hit match at the same Bengaluru venue last weekend against Pakistan despite posting a mammoth 401.
Pakistan won by 21 runs via the DLS method after scoring 200-1 in 25.3 overs, edging ahead on the required run rate when the game was halted due to the weather.
The defeat was a fourth successive loss for the Kiwis who had won their opening four games.
New Zealand, runners-up in the last two editions of the World Cup, are fourth in the table and need a win on Thursday to push their bid to secure a semi-final spot.
A washout could open the door for either Pakistan or Afghanistan to leapfrog them and grab the remaining last-four place, “There’s lots of things that we can’t control and the weather is one of those,” Williamson told reporters on the eve of the game against 1996 champions Sri Lanka.
“We’ll still have to very much see what the pitch is like. There’s been a lot of weather around and it could look different tomorrow.
“You mentioned that there might be some of it, there may be a thought in the back of your mind, but at the end of the day, our focus will be on the cricket that we want to play and trying to put all our focus and energy into that.”
Afghanistan and Pakistan have the same number of points as New Zealand while India, South Africa and Australia have already sealed semi-final places.
New Zealand similarly struggled to make the semis in 2019 but were able to turn things around and reach the final.
“I suppose guys have had some of those experiences, but it’s another game on another day and four years later,” Williamson said. “So, the focus is here and now and on the conditions, and how we want to adjust.”
Williamson returned in the previous match after recovering from a broken thumb to make a valiant 95 in a 180-run stand with Rachin Ravindra, who hit 108.
Lockie Ferguson, who has claimed eight wickets in five matches, missed the previous two games with an Achilles injury has now recovered to be available for selection.
Williamson said Ferguson “balances out our attack nicely” but did not reveal the team for the all-important match.
Fast bowler Matt Henry was ruled out of the rest of the tournament last week with a torn hamstring and Kyle Jamieson has taken his place in the squad.
Published in Dawn, November 9th, 2023