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Straight Bat: New Zealand tops the chart in a stodgy, thrill-free WC

  • Published at 11:15 am June 20th, 2019
New Zealand Williamson
New Zealand's Kane Williamson plays a shot during their World Cup match against South Africa in Birmingham Wednesday Reuters

The team continues to play steady and efficient cricket

When Kane Williamson hit a 6—to reach his century and equal the mediocre score line of  241—it was technically a close match, one could suppose.  However, it never looked that way  as  South Africa (SA) limped from the beginning and New Zealand (NZ) knew they were on the way to  the top. 

With zero losses after 5 games, they have 9 points. The only other team without a loss is India  and it has played one less match.  But, the top four do not look like they can be budged.  Fans were hoping for this but, oh well... 

NZ is looking blemish-free. Both India and NZ look horribly compact though India certainly has more flair. However, the dull-ish team at the top is doing steady and efficient cricket without many fireworks; with 9 points from 7, they don’t even need any.  

Also Read- Straight Bat: Goodbye dark horses

Depending on how you count, the match with South Africa was maybe a bit too close. They lost 6 wickets and did not exactly dominate– like Bangladesh (BD) did with the West Indies (WI).  However, the pacing  of the chase was superb and its unhurried gait was that of a top team. More steady than scintillating, it worked on the day – with SA scoring a below-par 221.  Though there were no fireworks, no goof-ups were apparent either. Barring a patch when two wickets fell quickly, they just sailed placidly to a measured victory in the last over.

SA just wasn’t there; commentators said the flesh might have been  there, but the spirit was missing. The batting was uninspiring and the impact of previous losses had taken its toll. Yes, more quality bowlers were there and it was no cakewalk for NZ, but they never threatened. However, they shared one terrible trait of the losers of this WC  – atrocious fielding. If anyone has seen WI fumble, let’s just say SA ran a close second to them in the missing catches and misfielding derby. An SA win would not quite have been a fair result. 

Negative fan support 

Though SA did not play well, they had plenty of fan support because the bottom cluster teams wanted NZ to fail and improve their own semi chances. NZ, however, has no sense of thrill and just ignored pleading voices to get out as quickly as possible. Despite many calls to the chap above, no upset occurred. There was no rain once the match began which had been rain-delayed. Sadly, rains, as we are discovering, have no sense of timing.  

This one was a game all non- NZ fans wanted them to lose. The most poignant comment was from a Pakistani fan: “Is SA playing like Pakistan because we are supporting  them?”

With every day shutting the  door once ajar to the semis, it will soon be time to figure out which teams of the top four will play against each other.