New Zealand at the World Cup – Kiwis on course to create history
40 years, six World Cup semi final losses and a lifetime of misery later, the Black Caps can dare to dream. The New Zealand national cricket team has made it to the ICC World Cup final in 2015. It wasn’t easy, though. They were tested to the limit by a determined South African team in a humdinger of a semi final at Eden Park on Tuesday; eventually, the Kiwis played through their skins, a certain Grant Elliott in particular, to chase down the target of 298 runs from 43 overs. And now, it’s up to their team of superstars for one final flourish.
A batting powerhouse to call their own
We are all well-versed with Brendon McCullum’s explosive and hard-hitting batting style; in their first game itself, the New Zealand captain showed his prowess with a 65 run knock that entertained the masses, and in the third against England, he scored the fastest World Cup half century (77 runs off 25 balls) to trounce the opposition by 8 wickets. But what was more interesting to witness was his ruthless and aggressive captaincy, handling the toughest of situations with much ease.
Along with McCullum, Martin Guptill, too, has earned a reputation as a force to be reckoned with. He scored his first ton in the final group game against Bangladesh, but what followed in the quarters against the West Indies was nothing short of unbelievable and maniacal – the opener smashed a mammoth 237 not out against a hapless and toothless Calypso attack. He became the first Kiwi batsman to score a double century, and now is the second highest individual score in ODIs. The opening partnership of McCullum and Guptill is slowly turning out to be a feared one.
One last chance for veterans
With bundles of experience under his belt, Daniel Vettori will also have a huge role to play. During the course, he became the 12th man to bag 300 ODI wickets. He has kept the opposition batsmen in check with an economy of under 4. It will be amazing to see the World Cup in his hands, after all that he has done for the country, leading the Black Caps through arguably their toughest period of cricket. It would be a fairytale end to his glimmering career.
Speaking of experience, no man showed any more than Grant Elliot when it counted for the most, guiding his team to a famous victory in the semi finals against the Proteas. His unbeaten knock of 84 in 73 balls will go down as one of the best in World Cup history.
Young blood in the team showing their worth
Kane Williamson will definitely be in the thick of things. A cool and calm head as his and that too on such young shoulders is a rarity in the game at the moment. His measured style of playing may just prove to be the difference.
New Zealand can finally claim to have a respectable (read deadly) pace attack in Tim Southee and Trent Boult. The duo have bowled well and with good pace throughout the series; it’s no surprise then that both registered their career best figures in the process – a mind-numbing 7 for 33 for Southee against England, while Trent Boult claimed figures of 5 for 27 against the Australians.
The New Zealand cricket team seems to be unstoppable..
To be honest, it is difficult to pull out any major weaknesses out of this team, who have handled everything that was thrown at them with great temperament and composure. Perhaps the only blip in an otherwise flawless World Cup performance so far was when the Kiwis huffed and puffed their way to a victory by just the solitary wicket against Australia in a group game. Chasing a meager target of 152, New Zealand seemed to be cruising until Aussie pacer Mitchell Starc almost won them the game with a lethal spell towards the end, bagging 6 wickets in total. They highlighted one very crucial fact – given the circumstance and right amount of pressure, the New Zealand middle and lower order is prone to a possible collapse. Moreover, Kiwis’ weakness against spin bowling is known, but they haven’t had any problems so far.
Heading into the final, the Black Caps would want to capitalize on their strengths and minimize their weaknesses. They’re the only team with an unblemished record this tournament, and they must use it to their advantage. It’s quite simple – if they continue the same run of form they have, there’s no doubt that they will win what turns out to be the biggest game of their cricketing history.
Come Sunday, the world will know if New Zealand have got what it takes to take them all the way. Sunday, the 29th of March 2015 – a date with destiny. And what better way to lift the coveted prize than to beat your neighbor and fiercest rival, Australia, in front of a packed Melbourne Cricket Ground.