Cricket World Cup 2019: New Zealand’s road to Lord’s final
New Zealand celebrate the run out of MS Dhoni at Old Trafford. © AFP

Kane Williamson‘s New Zealand cricket team became the first to reach the final of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 after they beat India at Old Trafford in the first semi-final on Wednesday.

This made it it the second consecutive World Cup final for the Black Caps. On Sunday, the Black Caps will play hosts England in the Word Cup final at Lord’s.

Here’s a look at how New Zealand made it this far:

Game 1 – beat Sri Lanka by 10 wickets, Cardiff

As in their first encounter of the last tournament four years ago, New Zealand made easy work of Sri Lanka in their opening match on June 1. Led by Lockie Ferguson and Matt Henry, their bullish pace attack rolled their opponents over for 136 in 29.2 and then Martin Guptill (73* off 51 balls) and Colin Munro (58* off 47) hastened a ten-wicket victory in 16.1 overs.

This win for New Zealand extended their grasp over Sri Lanka in ODIs to four consecutive matches dating back to December 2015. For Sri Lanka, this was their ninth loss in ten completed ODIs in 2019.

Game 2 – beat Bangladesh by two wickets, The Oval

A narrow win, one that could have been different had Mushfiqur Rahim collected the ball cleanly to run out Williamson. Chasing 245 after Henry claimed four wickets, New Zealand battled in fits and starts to get across the line with 17 deliveries left. Ross Taylor was the batting hero with 82 off 91 balls, with help from Williamson (40) before Mitchell Santner held his composure to finish the chase.

On 7, Williamson should have been run out but Mushfiqur broke the stumps without cleanly gathering the ball.

Game 3 – beat Afghanistan by seven wickets, Taunton

A facile win, set up by five wickets to Jimmy Neesham and four to Ferguson. Afghanistan were bowled out for 172 in 41.1 overs and Williamson anchored the chase with 79 not out from 99 balls, with Taylor getting 48 off 52.

Jimmy Neesham World Cup 2019
Jimmy Neesham picked up his maiden five-wicket-haul against Afghanistan. © AFP

Game 4 – No result versus India

Both teams picked up one point each after rain caused yet another washout, the fourth of the World Cup in which a ball was yet to be bowled. Drizzle continued to play hide and seek throughout the day, and after five unsuccessful ground inspections, the match was officially called off at 3:00pm local time. The washout meant that New Zealand stayed at the top of the table with seven points, while India jumped a place to be placed third with five points, behind Australia.

Game 5 – beat South Africa by four wickets, Edgbaston

South Africa landed in Birmingham needing to beat New Zealand to stay in contention for the World Cup semi-finals. They were unable to at the very ground at which they last defeated the Blackcaps in a World Cup … back in 1999.

Credit for this goes to how well New Zealand worked in the field, and then how efficiently Williamson batted in pursuit of a target of 242. Reprieved moments apart on 76 and 77, Williamson held his nerve to produce a positively high-class innings of astute judgement and infinite patience.

Partnering him in a match-winning stand of 91 in 14.5 overs was Colin de Grandhomme, who played the innings of his ODI career to relieve the pressure on his captain. Williamson’s 103* off 138 balls meshed brilliantly with de Grandhomme’s 47-ball 60 to help New Zealand to a four-wicket win in the final over at Edgbaston. With this, the Black Caps topped the World Cup table.

Kane Williamson World Cup century
Williamson’s 103* took New Zealand to victory over South Africa. © AFP

Game 6 – beat West Indies by five runs, Old Trafford

Chasing 292 to win – a score that was able due to Williamson’s second successive century – and stay alive in the tournament, West Indies had slipped to 164/7. Carlos Brathwaite, however, rose to the occasion, slamming his maiden ODI century to raise hopes of a miraculous win.

He single-handedly brought the equation down to six required off the last seven balls but failed to clear the boundary this one last time. As Trent Boult held his nerves to take the catch at long-on, Neesham, with that crucial wicket, ensured New Zealand stayed unbeaten, while West Indies’ campaign, despite that heroic effort, ended with a fourth loss.

Game 7 – lost to Pakistan by six wickets, Edgbaston

New Zealand’s first loss of the World Cup came at the hands of Pakistan, who sparked their dramatic turnaround of fortunes by chasing 238. New Zealand, batting first, were in trouble at 46/4 but thanks to Neesham’s unbeaten 97 and 64 from de Grandhomme, they ended with 237/6.

Pakistan were in a spot of bother at 44/2 but Babar Azam’s superb unbeaten 101 and Haris Sohail with 68 helped fashion a six-wicket win with five deliveries remaining.

Game 8 – lost to Australia by 86 runs, Lord’s

A second straight loss at the hands of defending champions Australia at Lord’s left New Zealand searching for a way to make the final four. A hat-trick to Boult was the bowling highlight for the Black Caps as Australia were kept to 243/9, but Mitchell Starc (5/26) was too good. Williamson’s dismissal to Starc for 40 was the wicket Australia needed, and once he went the innings caved in for 157.

New Zealand vs Australia, New Zealand, Australia, Mitchell Starc, ICC World Cup 2019, World Cup
Mitchell Starc took five wickets to bowl Australia to victory over New Zealand at Lord’s. (Image: Twitter/@CricketAus)

Game 9 – lost to England by 119 runs, Durham

With a place in the final four up for grabs, England set New Zealand a target of 306 on the back of Jonny Bairstow‘s ninth ODI century and another century-partnership between the him and Jason Roy, but in response, New Zealand’s chase never took off. Their over-dependence on Williamson and Taylor once again came to the fore as barring their 47-run partnership and a valiant 57 from Tom Latham, New Zealand struggled to get going and were eventually bowled out for 186.

Semi-final – beat India by 18 runs, Old Trafford

Williamson, upon winning the toss, opted to bat under grey skies. He then scored 67 off 95 balls after Guptill’s wretched tournament continued, before Taylor’s 74 helped New Zealand finish on 239/8 in their 50 overs on the reserve day of the semi-final.

New Zealand bowled and fielded tigerishly to beat India by 18 runs to reach their second World Cup final. Boult and Henry carved up India to 5/3 and then 24/4 and Santner took out two wickets with his masterful left-arm spin, but New Zealand were given a scare by Ravindra Jadeja who clubbed four fours and four sixes in a blazing 77. Once he was dismissed, however, the Black Caps squeezed out a famous win with Guptill’s stunning direct hit to run out MS Dhoni for 50 sending New Zealand fans into delirium.