ICC Cricket World Cup 2015: New Zealand’s six semi-final heartbreaks

New Zealand are the co-hosts of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, and since the tournament’s inception in 1975, this is one rare occasion when the island nation enter the mega-event as one of the top contenders. Brendon McCullum’s men, along with Australia and South Africa, look favourites to seal the semi-final slots.

The problem has been going beyond that. In the 10 World Cups so far, they have managed to enter semi-final six times but have never gone beyond that. So far, the Black Caps have played 70 World Cup matches, winning 40 of them and losing 29.

Suvajit Mustafi lists out New Zealand’s semi-final losses:

 

  1. 1975 World Cup: Against West Indies at The Oval
New Zealand’s John Morrison is trapped leg before by Bernard Julien, who went on to pick four wickets
New Zealand’s John Morrison is trapped leg before by Bernard Julien, who went on to pick four wickets


Winning two out of their three group matches, New Zealand made it to the semi-final of the inaugural World Cup. However, they were up against Clive Lloyd’s mighty West Indies at The Oval. Choosing to field first, West Indies bowled out the Kiwis for only 158.

New Zealand skipper Glenn Turner, who had been phenomenal with the bat in the tournament, could score only 36. New Zealand did make the chase difficult but Alvin Kallicharran’s attacking 72 saw them through, as another win later, West Indies went on to be crowned the champions.

Brief scores:

New Zealand 158 in 52.2 overs (Geoff Howarth 51; Bernard Julien 4-27, Vanburn Holder 3-30) lost to West Indies 159 for 5 in 40.1 overs (Gordon Greenidge 55, Alvin Kallicharran 72; Richard Collinge 3-28) by five wickets

 

  1. 1979 World Cup: Against England at Manchester
Ian Botham pulls a delivery from Lance Cairns
Ian Botham pulls a delivery from Lance Cairns


New Zealand once again did well in the group stage to qualify for the semi-final and this time they were up against England.

Choosing to field first, the New Zealand bowlers did a good job restricting England to 221 and looked set for the chase.

England came back well, bowling a tight line, to restrict New Zealand 10 runs short of the final berth.

Brief scores:

England 221 for 9 in 60 overs (Mike Brearley 53, Graham Gooch 71, Derek Randall 42*) bt New Zealand 212 for 9 in 60 overs (John Wright 69; Mike Hendrick 3-55) by nine runs

 

  1. 1992 World Cup: Against Pakistan at Auckland

New Zealand won seven out of their eight matches in the league stage and by far were the best team in tournament. Led by Martin Crowe, the Kiwis looked like the favourite side to lift the cup as they met the unpredictable Pakistan in the semi final at Auckland.

Winning the toss and batting first New Zealand put up a good total of 262 with Crowe once again leading from the front with 91. Pakistan started off decent but not many gave them a chance with 123 needed off the last 15 overs. Inzamam-ul-Haq, then belted a 60 from just 37 balls to bring his side into the contention and icing on the top was provided by Moin Khan’s 20 off 11, as Pakistan did the unthinkable of knocking-out New Zealand. Another win later, the men-in-green went on to win the World Cup.

Brief scores:

New Zealand 262 for 7 in 50 overs (Martin Crowe 91, Ken Ruthurford 50) lost to Pakistan 264 for 6 in 49 overs (Rameez Raja 44, Imran Khan 44, Javed Miandad 57*, Inzamam-ul-Haq 60) by four wickets

 

  1. 1999 World Cup: Against Pakistan at Manchester
Saeed Anwar plays a pull en route to his match-winning hundred
Saeed Anwar plays a pull en route to his match-winning hundred

The same two 1992 World Cup semi-finalists met again in the 1999 edition at the same stage. Winning the toss and batting first, New Zealand posted 241 but they knew it that it wasn’t enough against the strong Pakistan batting.

That’s exactly what happened. Banking on a brilliant Saeed Anwar hundred, Pakistan chased it down comfortably.

Brief scores:

New Zealand 241 for 7 in 50 overs  (Stephen Fleming 41, Roger Twose 46, Chris Cairns 44; Shoaib Akhtar 3-55) lost to Pakistan 242 for 1 in 47.1 overs (Saeed Anwar 113*, Wajahatullah Wasti 84) beat by nine wickets

 

  1. 2007 World Cup: Against Sri Lanka at Jamaica

This was turning out to be another wonderful World Cup for New Zealand. Having won all their Group matches, they fared very well in the Super Eight stage as well, which ensured them a semi-final berth. They were up against Mahela Jayawardene’s Sri Lanka, who elected to bat first. The Sri Lankan skipper was in a sublime form and crafted a master-class hundred, taking the team total to 289, which proved to be a lot in the end. The Kiwis found it difficult to counter Muttiah Muralitharan and bundled out for 208. It also marked an end to their skipper Stephen Fleming’s ODI career.

Brief scores:

Sri Lanka 289 for 5 in 50 overs (Upul Tharanga 73, Mahela Jayawardene 115*) bt New Zealand 208 in 41.4 overs (Peter Fulton 46; Muttiah Muralitharan 4-31) by 81 runs

 

  1. 2011 World Cup: Against Sri Lanka at Colombo
Muttiah Muralitharan is carried back to the dressing room following the World Cup semi-final win against New Zealand in Colombo
Muttiah Muralitharan is carried back to the dressing room following the World Cup semi-final win against New Zealand in Colombo

 

The Kiwis once again had a decent World Cup in the subcontinent but no one really gave them a chance against the strong South African side in the quarter-final at Dhaka. But when they pulled-off a spectacular win against the Proteas, they surely became a serious contender. But playing the semi-final against Sri Lanka and that too in their backyard presents a different challenge altogether. In a repeat of the previous World Cup semi-final clash of 2007, New Zealand won the toss and batted first, but failed to put on a sizable total.

New Zealand bowlers tried their best but the score of 217 was too low against the strong Sri Lankan line-up, who once again got the better of the Kiwis to cruise to the final.

Brief scores:

New Zealand 217 in 48.5 overs (Scott Styris 57; Lasith Malinga 3-55, Ajantha Mendis 3-35) lost to Sri Lanka 220 for 5 in 47.5 overs (Tillakaratne Dilshan 73, Kumar Sangakkara 54; Tim Southee 3-53) by five wickets

 

With a well-balanced side, New Zealand look firm favourites to seal one of the semi-final slots, in ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, however it will be interesting to see if they can take the major leap beyond.

(Suvajit Mustafi consumes cricket for lunch, fiction for dinner and munches numerous other snacks throughout the day. Yes, a jack of several trades, all Suvajit dreamt of was being India’s World Cup winning skipper but ended up being a sports writer, author, screenwriter, director, copywriter, graphic designer, sports marketer, strategist, entrepreneur,  philosopher and traveller. Donning so many hats, it’s cricket which gives him the ultimate high and where he finds solace. He can be followed at @RibsGully and rivu7)