New Zealand’s largely underwhelming performances in World Cup semis

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08 Jul 2019 | 11:06 AM
authorPramod Ananth

New Zealand’s largely underwhelming performances in World Cup semis

New Zealand won a World Cup semi-final for the first time in seven attempts in 2015. Can they repeat their feat in 2019?

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As New Zealand march into their eighth semi-final of the World Cup, here is a look at some of their past performances at the last four stage: 

New Zealand vs West Indies, 1975 World Cup, The Oval: This was the first of many World Cup matches these two nations would play on the biggest stage of them all. However, this was a rather one-sided match which saw an in-form New Zealand side get bundled out for just 152 by a bowling attack led by the fiery pace trio of Bernard Julien (4 for 27), Andy Roberts (2 for 18) and Vanburn Holder (3 for 30). New Zealand skipper Glenn Turner was in excellent form and managed 36 in this match. When he was dismissed, the Black Caps were in a good position at 98 for 2. However, once he was out, New Zealand managed just 60 more runs. Geoff Howarth’s 51 gave New Zealand some hope of getting a big score, but the Caribbean quicks nipped those hopes in the bud. Gordon Greenidge (55) and Alvin Kalicharran (72) put together a 127-run second wicket partnership that was good enough to see West Indies through to the final. 

New Zealand vs England, 1979 World Cup, Manchester: It was heartbreak for New Zealand once again in the semi-final as England went on to win the match by a slender 9-run margin and make it to their second final in as many editions. Batting first, England scored 221 from their 60 overs thanks to fifties from Mike Brearley (53) and Graham Gooch (71). 

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However, it was the late blitz from Derek Randall (42 off 50), which took England to a competitive total. Chasing 222, New Zealand opener John Wright’s 69 threatened an upset, but once he was dismissed the Kiwis kept losing wickets at regular intervals and in the end, England held on to their nerves to pull off a close victory. Mike Hendrick picked up the crucial wickets of Warren Lees (23 off 20) and Lance Cairns (14 off 6), which turned out to be pivotal in the end. 

New Zealand vs Pakistan, 1992 World Cup, Auckland: This match will forever be remembered for the way Inzamam-ul-Haq snatched victory for Pakistan from the jaws of defeat. Things were going according to plan for New Zealand after they had reduced Pakistan to 140 for 4 in a chase of 263. However, a young Inzaman decided to play one of the best innings of the tournament, smashing 60 off just 37 deliveries, to take his side to a maiden World Cup final. Javed Miandad (57*) and Moin Khan (20*) too played pivotal parts in Pakistan’s four-wicket victory. 

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Earlier, New Zealand had put on 262 for 7, thanks to Martin Crowe’s 83-ball 91 and a patient 50 off 68 from Ken Rutherford, who put on 107 runs for the fourth wicket with Crowe. However, their effort went in vain as they failed to make it to the final once again. 

New Zealand vs Pakistan, 1999 World Cup, Manchester: In a repeat of the 1992 World Cup semi-final, New Zealand huffed and puffed to a modest 241 for 7. Stephen Fleming (41), Roger Twose (46) and Chris Cairns (44*) got off to starts, but nobody took responsibility to turn that into a big score. In their chase, Pakistan broke little sweat as they chased down 242 with nine wickets to spare. 

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Saeed Anwar continued his good form, scoring 113 not out and put on a 194-run stand for the opening wicket with Wajahtullah Wasti (84) which set up the match beautifully for Pakistan. New Zealand’s quest for a maiden World Cup final eluded them once again. 

New Zealand vs Sri Lanka, 2007 World Cup, Jamaica: In what turned out to the longest World Cup ever, New Zealand once again managed to make it to the final four. They were up against a team that had already defeated them once in the super eight stage. It was the same result for New Zealand even in the semis, as they were thrashed by a Sri Lankan team in fine form. With the bat, it was Mahela Jayawardene whose 115 along with Upul Tharanga’s 73 took his side to 289 for 5. 

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Sri Lanka put in a disciplined bowling perform too, bundling New Zealand out for just 208. New Zealand neither had any sort of momentum going nor did they build any substantial partnerships early on, which would have eased the pressure on the middle and the lower-order. Muttiah Muralitharan got the crucial wickets of Jacob Oram, Brendon McCullum and Daniel Vettori, who scored just three runs between them, to completely derail the Kiwis. 

New Zealand vs Sri Lanka, 2011 World Cup, Colombo: This was New Zealand’s sixth World Cup semis and they had come up against Sri Lanka once again, after defeats in both their head to heads in the previous edition. This edition was no different as the Kiwis had already been defeated by Sri Lanka in the group stage at Mumbai, and once again suffered heartbreak as their batting was not up to the mark, getting bowled out for a below par 217 largely due to Scott Styris’ 77-ball 57. 

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Sri Lanka got off to a good start, and when Tillakaratne Dilshan (73) and Kumar Sangakkara (54) put on 120 for the second wicket, New Zealand’s fate was more or less sealed. Despite economical spells from Vettori and Andy McKay, Sri Lanka eased to a five-wicket victory with 13 balls to spare. 

New Zealand vs South Africa, 2015 World Cup, Auckland: Seventh time is the charm? It certainly was the case for New Zealand, who finally broke their semi-final jinx and made it to the final of the World Cup for the first time ever. What made it sweeter was the fact that they did it in their own backyard, in front of their fans. Unlike their earlier failed attempts, their batsmen stepped up and delivered in a chase of 298 from 43 overs in a rain-interrupted game at Eden Park. After losing a couple of quick wickets, Faf du Plessis (82) and Rilee Rossouw (39) steadied the innings before AB de Villiers (65* off 45) and David Miller (49 off 18) provided the finishing touches to the South African total of 281 for 5 from 43 overs. Three of the top four New Zealand batsmen scored 30 or more, with Martin Guptill going on to score a fifty. 

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However, it was the fifth wicket partnership of 103 between Grant Elliott and Corey Anderson in 15 overs that gave New Zealand a real chance of winning. The Proteas were always ahead of the Kiwis for most of the game, though, until Grant Elliott hit a six off the penultimate delivery of the match, from the legendary Dale Steyn, when five runs were required. The image of Elliott consoling Steyn after the match is one of contemporary cricket’s iconic memories.   

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