Cricket’s Holy Grail – 2: Resilient Kiwis




World Cup

World Cup

The World Cup for the Kiwis started with a loss to India in the warm up game and ended with a loss to another sub continent team Sri Lanka. It was a mixed show of good and bad performances. From the starting of the tournament, the Kiwis looked off-colour. The wounds of 4-0 series sweep were still fresh given by the Bangla tigers in their recent tour. With a psychological disadvantage weighing them down, winning the World Cup was always going to be an uphill task for New Zealand.

From Being Underdogs, New Zealand’s Run to the Semi-Finals of The World Cup was a show of great character. The tournament began and the opening match was a cake walk for New Zealand as they won convincingly over minnows Kenya with the Kenyan lions proving no match for their opponents. They were outplayed in all departments especially their “batting”. Followed by the next match against the Aussies, this time the Kiwis were outplayed in all departments, making it look like the Kenyans had avenged their humbling via the Aussies. Bowled out for a low score of 206, there was no display of grit from the Kiwi bowlers to break down the Aussie batting line-up. Then came another minnow, Zimbabwe, and another easy outing.

Then came the match against Pakistan, who were one of the most improved sides of the World Cup in both departments and were yet to taste defeat in the tournament. If the defeats against the big boys and the wins against minnows was an indication that Kiwis would lose against Pakistan, it proved to be wrong as the resurgent Ross Taylor rose from the dead to silence his critics with a fabulous display of power hitting, helping his side reach a fighting total. Following the outstanding the batting performance up with some good work was the Kiwi bowlers, who bowled accurately in the right areas to restrict the free flowing Pakistani batsmen. A well deserved victory in the end.

Then came minnows Canada who proved to be no match for their opponents as expected, to be followed by stern Lankan test on a slow turner in Mumbai. Sri Lanka posted a modest target of 265 but defended it brilliantly, with Muralitharan weaving his magic with the ball during a wonderful spell and taking advantage of the spin trap that the wicket was. The Kiwis were defeated, but they had done enough to book a berth with the Proteas in the quarters.

From the moment that the first ball was bowled in the quarter final against South Africa, it was clear that New Zealand were the favourites, judging by their body language. While the Kiwis looked pumped and raring to go, the Proteas seemed lost. Famous for their tag of ‘chokers’, the advantage lay with the Kiwis as it was South Africa who had everything to lose. The jinx continued to haunt the Proteas and a date with Sri Lanka arrived in the semis.

Just like in the group stage, Sri Lanka came to haunt the Kiwis yet again. Murali was already a point of concern and Mendis came to the party to add on the woes of kiwis. Bowling the Kiwis out to a modest total and then making a mockery of New Zealand bowling attack by scoring briskly at a very healthy run rate with every batsmen contributing very well, Sri Lanka made sure that they saw New Zealand roll over and die. It was a convincing defeat and the only positive for the Kiwis was their return of batsmen and Tim Southee’s bowling figures. Jacob Oram also impressed a lot with the bat as well as ball, but unfortunately it all was not enough to get past the Lankan Lions.

Never considered the favourites in the tournament considering their pre-World Cup form, it was great resilience on the part of the Kiwis to reach the finals, getting past a stern Proteas side in the process. They may not have stolen the headlines like India and Sri Lanka come end of the World Cup, but they certainly won a lot of hearts from what has been a resurgent performance from them in this tournament and take home plenty of positives, something that bodes well for the future.

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