New Zealand deserved to be in the T20 World Cup 2021 semifinals. The World Test champions, unlucky losers in the 2019 ICC World Cup (50 overs), the New Zealand cricket team showed how composure is key in the shortest format of the game. Who else but skipper Kane Richardson to show the way!
New Zealand never panicked for a moment after losing the toss against Afghanistan at Abu Dhabi. They backed their strengths and kept the precocious Afghans under pressure throughout the match, by smart bowling, exceptional fielding and worthwhile partnerships. The eight-wicket victory was testimony to New Zealand's intent that was highlighted by a perfect team game.
The Kiwis, who decimated the high-profile Indian cricket team, have been remarkable in the way they have adjusted to the T20 World Cup schedule and played according to conditions.
New Zealand won three matches in five days and all after losing the toss. The win against Afghanistan effectively ended India's campaign. Virat Kohli's team finishes with a group match against Namibia on Monday. (POINTS TABLE)
Skipper Williamson was a proud man after Sunday's emphatic win.
"(It was) a strong performance. We know how dangerous this Afghanistan side is. Nice for us to be able to set the tone with the ball, take wickets early and then keep them to below-par total.
"(A score of) 150-155 would have been par. It has certainly been a challenge to adjust quickly to three different venues," said Kane Williamson.
New Zealand are likely to finish No. 2 in Group 2. Pakistan play Scotland in the evening match on Sunday and are expected to win and top the pool. If the Scots don't upset the Pakistanis, the semifinal final line-up will see New Zealand facing England (No. 1 in group 1) in Abu Dhabi and Pakistan facing Australia (No. 2 in group 1) in Dubai.
"Another strong challenge coming up. England are a very strong side. For us it is important we keep learning and building on. Incredibly tough competition. Looking forward to the occasion," said Williamson, who will remember how Eoin Morgan's team stole the thunder in the final of the 2019 World Cup in UK.
Trent Boult, Man of the Afghanistan vs New Zealand match for his 3/17, was also bracing up for the England challenge.
"The boys are in good spirits. Some big games coming up. Wickets have been different during the day games and night games so nice to have experienced both. England are playing good cricket. It is going to be a challenge."