New Zealand’s consistency in ODI World Cups is amazing. On Wednesday, they will play in their fifth successive semifinals. After losing last-four games in 2007 and 2011, they have got better at holding their nerves better to become finalists in the last two editions.
Kiwi fast bowler, Lockie Ferguson, who took three big wickets in the 2019 final loss to England, put down New Zealand’s consistency in big events to staying calm.
“We sort of stick to our processes; I know it sounds a cliche, but it keeps us sort of level-headed, and naturally as Kiwis we tend to stay where our feet are, which I think is a positive. But yeah, we look forward to big tournaments,” said Ferguson, who boasts a World Cup record of 31 wickets in 15 matches.
In 2019, New Zealand’s biggest scalp was India in the semifinal. The Virat Kohli-led side were in form and had topped the round-robin stage but come the knockouts and the Kiwis beat them. Ferguson, who took 1/43 in his 10 overs, said: “Yeah, it was a pretty spectacular game… very pleasing for us but four years have gone past…”
In this World Cup too, New Zealand gave unbeaten India the toughest fight. In Dharamsala, they posted 273 and made the India batters toil in the chase. Ferguson removed openers Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill before Kohli steered the hosts to a four-wicket win.
“It was a hard-fought game. Of course, with one-day cricket and playing against India, there’s a lot of ebbs and flows. It’s not going to be any different come this game. We’ve just got to tighten up as much as we can, adjust to the wicket, see what we think will be a good score, and do our best to defend it. And if we bat first, try to put runs on the board which we think will be a good score.”
The Wankhede has been a high-scoring venue with the bowlers coming under pressure bowling first. India scored 357 against Sri Lanka here. The extra pace can be a double-edged sword when the boundaries are short like here. Ferguson, armed with a sharp bouncer, said control will be the key.
“A lot of Indian grounds have been high scoring,” he said. “So, it’s trying to understand what the pitch will be like and try to read what a good score on it is because those big overs, 10 runs here, 10 runs there can cost you at the back end of the innings. So, from a bowling point of view we’re trying to shut down those big overs… it’s an experience thing, an assessment thing.
“The pitch will be different again, that’s the joy of cricket, we play on a different pitch each time, so it’s hard to read two days out. But we’ve got to adapt as quick as possible come Wednesday.”
New Zealand’s pace attack has been depleted by injury to in-form pacer Matt Henry, but Tim Southee is back. “We look good here. Matt is obviously a big hole in our side, (but) we’re still a handsome bunch. Tim Southee brings a lot of experience obviously being captain of the Test team, captain in T20s and one-days too; so, I think that experience counts for a lot.”