Except for Kane Williamson, none of the Kiwi batsmen reached double figures © Getty Images
Except for Kane Williamson, none of the Kiwi batsmen reached double figures © Getty Images

 

New Zealand exited the ICC World T20 2014 with a shocking 59-run loss to Sri Lanka. What was more shocking was that they were chasing only a 120-run target after a very good bowling display. Any team could have lost the match, but the manner in which New Zealand capitulated was baffling. Shrikant Shankar feels New Zealand lost a great opportunity to actually win the T20 World Cup.

 

Almost all the major teams have won at least one main event in cricket. Whether be it the World Cup, Champions Trophy or the World T20, the big teams have their name etched in history. Some have had more success than the others and that is expected. India are the only team to have won all three. Australia have the first two events the most number of times. West Indies also have won both those events. Pakistan have won the World Cup and the World T20. Sri Lanka have won the big one in 1996. They did share the Champions Trophy with India in 2002, but that is not outright. England have won the T20 World Cup in 2010. Then there are South Africa and New Zealand.

 

 

These two teams have won the Knockout Trophy [predecessor to the Champions Trophy]. The Proteas won the inaugural edition in 1998. The Kiwis lifted the trophy in the very next edition in 2000. After that, the two teams have had no success in any of the major ICC events. South Africa have been dubbed as the perennial ‘chokers’ in cricket. There is a lot of weight in that argument as they have been one of the major favourites in most of those competitions. New Zealand have never been favourites, but have managed to get to many semi-finals and the 2009 Champions Trophy final. Then they lost to Australia, who were the best One-Day International (ODI) team back then.

 

 

 

But New Zealand have always lost in important matches in many of these tournaments. They do manage to spring up a surprise every now and then. Like their defeats of South Africa in the ICC World Cup 2007 and then Pakistan in the 2011 edition. But mostly they have suffered losses in knockout matches in these events. What is odd is that most of that has come against Sri Lanka. March 31, 2014 was another such occasion where the Black Caps lost the plot against the Lankans in the ICC World T20 2014. They were chasing an achievable 120-run target after an inspired bowling performance by their bowlers. But inconceivably, they were bowled out for a meager 60 runs in only 15.3 overs.

 

Some credit has to go to the Sri Lankan bowlers, especially Rangana Herath. The left-armer took five wickets for only three runs in 3.3 overs with two maidens. Less dew and Corey Anderson‘s absence during batting are factors important in the 59-run loss. But there is no excuse to the way New Zealand crumbled under the pressure. And it is essential to note that the main reason why they exited the tournament is ‘pressure’. It isn’t that they were outplayed by Sri Lanka, as in many such occasions in previous ICC events. They were chasing a highly gettable target after bowling out the Lankans for 119 in 19.2 overs.

 

Only Kane Williamson got into double figures and he scored 42 runs — a record 70 per cent of New Zealand’s total runs. The next highest was five runs. This is simply not acceptable. New Zealand are a full-fledged Test nation with a lot of experienced players. They are not an Associate or Affiliate team who can be excused with such a result. New Zealand didn’t enter the tournament as favourites. They were the Dark Horses. They had Sri Lanka exactly where they wanted them. A victory would have seen them top Group 1 in the Super 10s and play the semi-finals against either Pakistan or West Indies. With neither team playing at their full potential, the Black Caps could have had a shot of playing in the final.

 

Now they head back home after an embarrassing loss. According to the authour, New Zealand messed up a glorious chance to actually win the T20 World Cup with some quality players. But the likes of Brendon McCullum, Ross Taylor and Martin Guptill did not stand up when it mattered and that cost them dearly. They do not have any excuse after their sorry exit from the tournament. And that does make one wonder when would it be that New Zealand end this agonising losing streak in important matches at major events.

 

ICC World T20 2014 schedule: Match time table with venue details

 

ICC World T20 2014 Points Table and Team Standings

 

(Shrikant Shankar is a writer/reporter at CricketCountry.com. Previously he has done audio commentary for various matches involving India, Indian Premier League and Champions League Twenty20 for ESPNSTAR.com. You can follow him on Twitter @Shrikant_23)