A spirited New Zealand saw their Cricket World Cup dream get over, in the most agonising manner there can be in sports. The Kiwis, who were absolutely terrific in the semis and the finale, saw another wonderful, committed performance fall short. England lifted the 2019 World Cup trophy for the first time and left the Black Caps with successive final defeats.
The Kiwis were in need of 16 runs to win in a Super Over bowled by England’s Jofra Archer at Lord’s. Opening batsman Martin Guptill had to score two off the final ball after Jimmy Neesham played to his strengths and got the side close. However, Guptill hit to the man in the deep and ran back for a second that wasn’t there. England’s Jos Buttler whipped the bails off and the celebrations for the hosts began. A teary eyed Guptill sat on his knees to feel the pain.
For Kiwis the 2019 World Cup campaign was so near yet so far. They were terrific in the first half of the campaign in the league stage and were unstoppable. Then calamity struck as the side were beaten in three consecutive games leading to the semis. A better NRR ahead of Pakistan helped Kiwis finish in the top four.
The form was once again picked up in the crucial stage. In both matches, they batted first. As usual they didn’t score the runs, but somehow they did just enough to feed on the pressure. A top notch bowling and fielding effort got them the trophy almost, but perhaps things weren’t meant to be.
New Zealand’s best moment came in the semis when they outmuscled India. And then we got the glimpse of the best ever ODI game of such velocity in the big stage. Perhaps it was the greatest knock-out game ever played. One feels for the Kiwis given the spirit they showed all along the way.
Here we review New Zealand’s campaign in the ICC World Cup 2019.
Kane Williamson a gem cricket needs for generations of New Zealand Cricketers
This was a tournament that had many layers. One thing that topped the billing was Kane Williamson’s captaincy. He led superbly throughout the tournament. He was chosen as the skipper in everybody’s World Cup XI. Not just that, the stylish, sensational and calm Kane was named player of the tournament.
He was a hugely influential figure in New Zealand’s run to the final. Kane ended with 578 runs at 82.57. He became the first skipper to score in excess of 550-plus runs. The flamboyant Kane’s love affair with English soil was something we had discussed earlier. That helped him lay the foundation.
But batting somehow played a second role. What trumped one and all was his captaincy in pressure situations. His ability to remain humble in the most demanding situations. For once there was no signs of displeasure, anger or any sort of negative emotions. That separates him from the rest of the cricketers in today’s generation.
The Kiwi captain loves to adapt in various situations and his simplicity is what has stood tall for New Zealand. He drew praise from all corners and the whole world seemed to have loved the aura of Kane. England were brilliant and sealed the deal, but the quiet captain or the silent assassin stood tall alongside his meticulous team. They were true knights.
That extra bit in batting lacked for Kiwis
Throughout the tournament, this was one department that eluded New Zealand. They struggled for intensity. The openers struggled. The middle order was heavily dependent on Kane and Ross Taylor. All-rounders Jimmy Neesham and Colin de Grandhomme did well, but weren’t consistent enough.
Going forward, the Kiwis will need to have a look at the batting and feel there’s work to be done. Thanks to the wonderful bowling and fielding departments for stepping up. Otherwise, Kiwis would have not quite made it to the last four. Besides Kane, veteran Taylor was the second highest run-scorer (350). Jimmy Neesham was only the third player to score in excess of 200-pus (258).
The rest of the batsmen didn’t manage to cross 200 runs in the event. No openers in that list makes it even more glaring. The middle order was often exposed early on and somehow things kept slowing down for the side. But credit to Kiwis for at least showing fight and getting those tricky scores of 240-plus in the most decisive stage. Those runs seemed like 300-plus in those pressure situations.
Bowling was top notch for Kiwis and that was special
Kiwis stood out with the ball in the 2019 World Cup. Like England, India and Australia, the Black Caps had all the essential tools to come good. Their pace attack in particular was a delightful group. Leading the race was Lockie Ferguson. With 21 scalps, the fast bowler showed how big a talent he is in modern day cricket. Lockie was brilliant in the knock-out games.
His best moment was in the finale as he tilted the game for his side. Senior man Trent Boult as usual delivered that included a stunning hat-trick against Australia in the league stage. Matt Henry was an able support. The delivery to get Rohit Sharma out in the semis was one of the best World Cup deliveries one will ever notice.
In the final, his away swingers past the outside edge and the cutters up the slope were magnificent.
Jimmy Neesham was the star man. The all-rounder bowled his heart out and made Kane rely on him. He showed leadership qualities. Mitchell Santner delivered as far what was expected out of him. Grandhomme, utilised his powers well. The 32-year-old was on a different zone with his unerring accuracy.
The special set of talented Kiwi cricketers made the most out of the chances and showed how belief plays a major role.