New Zealand Must Overcome History to Claim Twenty20 Title

By Richards, Huw | International New York Times, March 30, 2016 | Go to article overview

New Zealand Must Overcome History to Claim Twenty20 Title


Richards, Huw, International New York Times


The Black Caps marched undefeated into the semifinals, but no team has ever swept an entire World Twenty20 tournament.

New Zealand looks like the team to beat as the World Twenty20 semifinals start Wednesday in India.

But the Black Caps, who play England in New Delhi, must overcome history, as well as two more opponents, to take the trophy as champions on Sunday. New Zealand went 4-0 in the pool stage, but no team has ever swept an entire World Twenty20 tournament.

New Zealand has never won a global cricket championship; its one title was the second-tier Champions Trophy in 2000. The other three semifinalists -- England, West Indies and India -- have all won the World Twenty20 in the past.

New Zealand has already exceeded expectations by hardly missing a beat after the February retirement of its innovative captain, Brendon McCullum.

"Any time you have an influential captain, there's going to be a period when his influence is still present," New Zealand's Ross Taylor, a former captain, said last week.

Taylor said he could already see the influence of McCullum's successor, Kane Williamson, on the team. "He's taking a lot from what Brendon did, but I think that he's also doing his own things as well."

Williamson's embrace of McCullum's freethinking spirit was evident in New Zealand's first match. The fast bowlers Trent Boult and Tim Southee were expected to spearhead New Zealand's bowling against India, the host and pretournament favorite, but both were left out as New Zealand opted for spinners. India was routed for 79.

New Zealand's two young spinners, Ish Sodhi and Mitchell Santner, have been the most effective bowlers in any team and were the leading wicket-takers in the pool stage.

New Zealand has played in four different stadiums and has batted first in each match. The result has always been the same, with its opponent unable to reach what looked an attainable target.

"As the tournament goes on, I think we are winning those crucial moments and putting pressure on the opposition," said Taylor. "The bowlers have to take a lot of credit for the way this team has gone so far in this tournament."

The Black Caps' sweep in the pool stage was matched by New Zealand's women's team, which staged an even more majestic march through its qualifying pool to reach its semifinal against West Indies in Mumbai on Thursday.

The men's team will face an England team whose progress has been more stumbling. It lost to West Indies, had to chase down a huge South African total and then had a serious scare against Afghanistan before beating Sri Lanka to make the final four.

But England's New Zealand-born all-rounder, Ben Stokes, said that playing in New Delhi may give it an edge over the Black Ferns, who have yet to play there.

"This is our third game here, so you could say it is like a home game, even though it is in India," he told reporters Monday. …

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