London: Former New Zealand allrounder Daniel Vettori insists his country are still contenders for the world cup despite their recent stumbles. New Zealand suffered their second defeat of the tournament against Australia at Lord's on Saturday, losing by 86 runs against the holders after a defeat to Pakistan in their previous game.
The Black Caps are not assured of a semi-final berth with one game left against England on 3 July. But Vettori remains confident that the 2015 World Cup runners-up will stay calm ahead of the England clash and should be capable of advancing to the knockout stages.
"I still definitely feel that this New Zealand side can make history and win it all," Vettori said in an ICC Media column. "Two losses at this stage will be tough to take but they have been so good for so long and have so many experienced players that I am sure they will pull through."
"It is a bit tighter now, but I still think they will feel pretty confident. Even if every result goes against them, their net run rate should still put them into the semi-finals."
"The nature of this New Zealand team for an extended period of time now has been to stay pretty constant, to not panic."
Vettori says New Zealand have been playing well enough not to lose faith in their game-plan. "They will understand that they have played some really good cricket in this tournament," he said. "They will need to call on all their strengths to get through against the hosts."
"But even if they don't win against England and go through via net run rate, or other results going their way, I still think they will walk into the semi-finals thinking they can beat anyone on their day."
Vettori's main concern is New Zealand's ability to score enough runs to put opponents in trouble on slow pitches, with the Black Caps yet to reach 300 in the tournament. "The only question mark for them will be the surfaces they were playing on. It looks like across the board the surfaces are getting slower," he said.
"That makes it more difficult for batting and those partnerships are going to become more important, I am sure that will be a big focus against England."
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