Black Caps T20 World Cup hopes boosted by recent success

Calm, composed – and quietly confident.

Photo: PHOTOSPORT

A decade ago, they may not have been the first adjectives used to describe the Black Caps ahead of a World Cup semifinal.

But after a raft of recent success, it’s exactly where the New Zealand side sits as they bid to book a place in yet another major title decider.

England may enter Thursday morning’s (NZ time) semifinal in Abu Dhabi as favourites, but Black Caps captain Kane Williamson knows the match can go either way.

“You turn up in finals cricket, and especially in T20 cricket where there’s match-winners throughout and on the day anything can happen, but it’s exciting.

“The players are all really looking forward to the occasion.”

An occasion they wouldn’t be daunted by.

Especially as World Test champions, finalists at the past two 50-over World Cups and semifinalists at this tournament in 2016.

Coach Gary Stead said this group of Black Caps knew a thing or two about big matches.

“I’m not sure, when you line each player up man-for-man, that a lot of people gives us the credit that perhaps some of these guys deserve.

“It’s a pretty experienced group of guys know who know each others games very well and as a collective group we do fight hard.

“The results, at the end of the day, will look after themselves if we do those little things well.”

New Zealand also entered the match on the back of four straight wins.

England captain Eoin Morgan consoles New Zealand captain Tim Southee at the conclusion of the super over. New Zealand Black Caps v England Twenty20 Cricket match at Eden Park.

Photo: Photosport

England captain Eoin Morgan told Sky Sport UK they were well aware the qualities the Black Caps possessed.

“They’ve been very strong.

“To turn over India in the fashion they did takes a very … quite a lot of cohesion within your side.

“They’re a team that plays really strongly together as a group, as opposed being heavily reliant on one or two individuals.”

Still, individuals could have a big bearing on matches in the game’s shortest format.

And it was for that reason Morgan admitted the loss of destructive opening batter Jason Roy to injury was a big blow.

“Yeah, he’s unbelievably important. He’s a guy that epitomises everything we are about and the way that we play.

“You see how commanding he is at the top of the order, not only in T20 cricket but 50-over cricket as well.

“He’s as close as we get to surmising how the changing room should play.”

But even without Roy, England’s batting line-up was packed with power.

Led by the tournament’s leading run-scorer Jos Buttler, they also notched four straight victories before completing the group stage with a narrow loss to South Africa.

Martin Guptill of the New Zealand BlackCaps

Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Kane Williamson said the Black Caps knew exactly what they were up against.

“That’s been a big movement of their white ball side. Power-packed and the bat quite deep as well.

“There are a number of threats [but] we also have a number of match-winners as well and at the end of the day it’s trying to commit to what you do as a team.”

Successfully doing that would not only mean New Zealand advanced to another World Cup final.

Revenge for the outcome of that 2019 one-day World Cup decider was also up for grabs.

The Black Caps were insisting that was not their focus.

But that didn’t mean they weren’t motivated, and Stead was welcoming England’s attacking approach.

“That also brings opportunity with it as well. If they don’t get it quite right, it perhaps brings our bowlers into the game.

“We know that England have a lot of power, they’ve been the dominant white-ball side in world cricket for the last two or three years.

“They’ve got a group of players who have been pretty secure in their positions and know what they’re trying to do [but] it’s a one-off game for us.

“We’ll go in with a lot of confidence and hopefully fire some shots at England that they may not expect.”

Tomorrow morning’s semifinal was set to start at 3am, with the victor going through to play the winner of Friday morning’s second semi between Pakistan and Australia.

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