They got off to the strongest of starts in the 2019 ICC World Cup, were unbeaten for a long period of time before suffering a string of defeats.
They eventually had to rely on external factors to make it to the semi-finals, in which they pulled off an unlikely victory over hot favourites India to enter their second successive final.
New Zealand’s journey in the 2019 ICC World Cup has been a roller-coaster ride, one in which they’ve appeared both unbeatable as well as vulnerable, depending on the stage of the tournament.
While they have been successful in entering their second successful World Cup final, Kane Williamson stands the chance to etch his name in the Black Caps Hall of Fame and go where the like of
Martin Crowe, Stephen Fleming and Brendon McCullum couldn’t — lifting the glittering trophy in the most important tournament of them all.
Here we take a look at New Zealand’s journey in the 12th edition of ICC’s showpiece event:
Defeated Sri Lanka by 10 wickets: New Zealand got their World Cup campaign off to a dominant start, giving Sri Lanka a sound thrashing at Cardiff. Only three Lankan batsmen were able to register two-digit scores, including a fighting half-century from skipper Dimuth Karunaratne, as the 1996 champions were bowled out for a lowly 136. The Black Caps openers themselves chased the target down in less than 100 deliveries.
Defeated Bangladesh by 2 wickets: New Zealand though, suffered a major scare against a spirited Bangladesh side in the day-night fixture at The Oval. A half-century from Shakib Al-Hasan as well as contributions from the middle order guided the ‘Tigers’ to 244. The Kiwis were sitting pretty at 160/2 in response, before a middle-order collapse brought their opponents back in the game. In the end, it was left to Mitchell Santner and Lockie Ferguson to guide their team home with two wickets to spare in what turned out to be a thrilling chase in the end.
Defeated Afghanistan by 7 wickets: Afghanistan were off to a solid start, thanks to a 66-run opening stand between Hazratullah Zazai and Noor Ali Zadran. However, that was perhaps the only session in which Afghanistan were in the game, as a series of poor shots from the batsmen saw the team waste their start and collapse like a pack of cards. A fighting innings from Hashmatullah
Shahidi (59) took them to 172, but that hardly proved enough for the attack that was missing out on Rashid Khan’s services (the leg—spinner having been hit on the head earlier in the match). Skipper Williamson remained unbeaten on 79 to guide his team home.
No result vs India: The first time these two teams match in the 2019 World Cup (no, we’re not counting the warm-up match here) saw the game washed out without a single ball being bowled, much to the frustration of both the fans as well as the players themselves. The New Zealand-India washout was of the several games affected by the fickle British weather, with a number of matches getting affected in the same week as this fixture.
Defeated South Africa by 4 wickets: The first of the two thrillers that the Kiwis were involved in after their washout against India. Opting to field after a delayed start thanks to another spell of rain at Edgbaston, New Zealand began on a strong note as they got rid of Quinton de Kock cheaply. However, fifties from Hashim Amla (55) and Rassie van der Dussen (67) lifted the Proteas to a competitive 241/6 in a match that was shortened to 49 overs a side.
The Black Caps, in response, lost Colin Munro early, with Martin Guptill getting dismissed rather freakishly after putting up a partnership with Williamson. New Zealand lost three more wickets after Guptill in quick succession, and looked down and out at 137/5, before Williamson rallied with Colin de Grandhomme (60), and slammed an unbeaten 106 to guide his team to a sixth World Cup victory over South Africa in eight meetings.
Defeated West Indies by 5 runs: A game that people will remember as one of the greatest one-day games ever played, as well as one in which Carlos Brathwaite produced one of his finest knocks and nearly pulled off a repeat of the 2016 World T20 final.
New Zealand were off to a disastrous start at the Old Trafford, with both their openers departing for golden ducks. However, the brilliance of Williamson (148) and Ross Taylor (69) saw the Kiwis mount an impressive comeback. Despite a late collapse, they still managed an impressive 291/8.
Chris Gayle (87) looked ferocious in his stroke play at the start of the Windies innings and looked set for a match-winning ton, even as fellow opener Shai Hope and No 3 batsman Nicholas Pooran departed for just 1. He stitched a century partnership with Shimron Hetmyer (54), before both batsmen, along with captain Jason Holder, departed within a space of a few deliveries.
At 164/7, the contest was as good as over. Not for Brathwaite though, who found support from the tailenders and took calculated risks to keep the target within his reach. Brathwaite blasted 25 runs off Matt Henry in the 48th over to bring up his century and leave West Indies needing just 8 off two overs. James Neesham, though, bowled a brilliant over to force the all-rounder to mishit a short ball towards long on, where Trent Boult held on to perhaps the most important catch of his career, resulting in a heartbreak for Windies fans.
Lost to Pakistan by 6 wickets: James Neesham heroics, this time with the bat as he remained unbeaten on 97, saved New Zealand the blushes and took them to a respectable score of 237/6 from a precarious position of 83/5. Shaheen Shah Afridi bowled out a match-winning spell of 3/28 that was primarily responsible for restricting New Zealand.
The Pakistanis, in response, lost Fakhar Zaman early, but were undone by the brilliance of Babar Azam (101) and Haris Sohail (68) as the Pakistanis romped to a seven-wicket win to end the Black Caps’ unbeaten run in the tournament.
Lost to Australia by 86 runs: The New Zealand attack was proving too good for the Australian top-order at the ‘Home of Cricket’, restricting their Trans-Tasman rivals to 92/5 at one stage. The Kiwis though, were guilty of losing their momentum in the middle overs, allowing Usman Khawaja (88) and Alex Carey (71) to fight back with a 107-run stand, helping the team finish on 243/9. Trent Boult collected the last three wickets on the trot to become the first New Zealand bowler to collect a World Cup hat-trick.
Williamson and Taylor were once again doing the rescue act after the loss of the openers, but the rest of the batting order collapsed like a pack of cards once they exited the stage, with Mitchell Starc decimating most of the batting order to finish with a match-winning haul of 5/26.
Lost to England by 119 runs: New Zealand’s chances of qualifying for the last four was in serious danger after the Black Caps were decimated by the hosts at at Chester-le-Street in a match that was as one-sided as it could get. Jonny Bairstow was on a critic-silencing spree on that day, smashing a 99-ball 106 as England posted a stiff 306-run target.
The Black Caps, in response, were never in the chase as they kept losing wickets at regular intervals, getting bundled out for a lowly 186 in response as England confirmed their spot in the semis in emphatic fashion. New Zealand, on the other hand, had to wait till the Pakistan-Bangladesh result before proceeding towards Manchester.
Defeated India by 18 runs: In a one-day international that was spread over two days — a rare event in itself — thanks once again to an incessant spell of rain, New Zealand pulled off what some described as a shock victory over strong favourites India in the first semi-final at Old Trafford.
New Zealand lost Martin Guptill early after opting to bat, and barely scored at a rate of three-an-over in the first powerplay, before another Williamson-and-Taylor act put them back on track towards a match-winning total. Even though they suffered a late collapse, the score of 239/8 would prove sufficient in the end.
Boult and Henry were on the money from the word go as the Indian top three of KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli were all dismissed for identical scores of 1. Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya scored 32 each to keep the Indians afloat, before a classic counter-attacking innings from Ravindra Jadeja (77), with able support from MS Dhoni (50) gave the ‘Men in Blue’ real hope of pulling off a miracle. In the end, it was left to Boult and a magical direct hit by Guptill to seal the deal for the Kiwis, who entered their second successive World Cup final with a narrow 18-run win in the end.