ADELAIDE: New Zealand captain Kane Williamson said Thursday he was staying patient and working to hit top gear as the Black Caps look to clinch a Twenty20 World Cup semi-final berth against Ireland.
New Zealand are in pole position on net run rate in Group 1 but level on points with England and Australia with one game remaining, meaning victory against Ireland in Adelaide should guarantee a semi-final spot.
The Blacks Caps have by far the best net run rate of the three sides and Williamson said they would be focusing purely on performance when they take on the Irish.
“We’ve seen the quality throughout all teams in this tournament, through the qualifiers, into the Super 12,” he said.
“For us it’s really just continuing to focus on our cricket, trying to make those little improvements from game to game, and try and put out improved performances.”
Williamson is one of the world’s leading batsmen in Test cricket, but has often struggled with the demands of the shorter format where he bats at the key number three position.
He has struggled to convert starts into bigger scores or to accelerate, with his strike rate at a modest 122.51 runs per 100 balls. He was at the crease for almost 13 overs, taking 40 balls and 57 minutes to make 40 on Tuesday as New Zealand failed to chase down 180 to beat England.
“You’re always wanting to get better, and cricket is a pretty fickle game by its nature,” Williamson told reporters.
“You sort of do go through different periods where there’s better rhythm and then other times where you’re working harder and you’re trying to make sure that you’re making a valuable contribution. So that’s the focus… and staying a little bit patient with it, as well.”
Williamson’s 23 in 23 balls in his team’s opening win against hosts Australia contrasted with team-mate Devon Conway’s 92 off 58 balls as New Zealand smacked 200 in their 20 overs.
He scratched around for eight off 13 balls in the previous match against Sri Lanka.
“With the bat, there’s a number of, I guess, phases or gears to go through,” he said. “I definitely want to keep touching on those third and fourth gears where you are exploring some different areas of the ground.”
Other New Zealand batsmen have stepped up, with Glenn Phillips hitting 104 off 64 balls against Sri Lanka in Sydney to rescue the team from 15-3 and a 36-ball 62 against England in Brisbane.
“He’s been absolutely on fire in all facets of the game,” Williamson said of Phillips.
“That hundred that he got in Sydney on a difficult surface was exceptional, one of the best T20 knocks that I’ve seen, and he’s a real power dynamic player, and we see that in the field, as well.”
Ireland’s semi-final hopes are all but over but they would love to put in one final giant-killing act having already beaten the West Indies and England in the tournament.
Ireland pace bowler Josh Little said they were looking for nothing less than a win against New Zealand. “I think if you just look at the tournament so far, you’ve seen upsets nearly every day or every second day, if you can even call them upsets anymore,” he said. “Everyone is pretty competitive. It’s a World Cup. Anything can happen.”
(Tabulated under played, won, lost, no result, points, net run-rate) Group 1: New Zealand 4 2 1 1 5 2.233 England 4 2 1 1 5 0.547 Australia 4 2 1 1 5 -0.304 Sri Lanka 4 2 2 0 4 -0.457 Ireland 4 1 2 1 3 -1.544 Afghanistan 4 0 2 2 2 -0.718 Group 2: India 4 3 1 0 6 0.730 South Africa 4 2 1 1 5 1.441 Pakistan 4 2 2 0 4 1.117 Bangladesh 4 2 2 0 4 -1.276 Zimbabwe 4 1 2 1 3 -0.313 Netherlands 4 1 3 0 2 -1.233
Published in Dawn, November 4th, 2022