Black Caps still assured a Super 8s spot

HAMISH BIDWELL IN KANDY
Last updated 07:27 24/09/2012
Daniel Vettori
Photosport
STRUGGLING: Daniel Vettori reacts after some poor fielding from the Black Caps as Pakistan reached 177-6 in their 20 overs.

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New Zealand remain assured of progressing through to the Super 8s stage of the Twenty20 World Cup, despite last night's ugly 13-run loss to Pakistan.

The Black Caps' net run rate is such that they can't be prevented from advancing, no matter what the result is in tomorrow night's (NZ time) final Group D clash between Bangladesh and Pakistan.

New Zealand still have a positive run rate and will likely join Pakistan as the two Group D teams to stay alive in the tournament. It's understood that Bangladesh could still go through, but that it would have to be at Pakistan's expense.

They would need to give Pakistan an absolute towelling and hope that, in the process, they establish a better net run rate than their bitter rivals and neighbours.

That's all good news for the Black Caps, who definitely didn't play their best cricket against Pakistan. Tactically, they were off the mark and their skill-execution left a bit to be desired too.

Immediately after that defeat, New Zealand captain Ross Taylor wasn't exactly sure where his team stood, qualification-wise. But he definitely knew why they'd lost.

And it wasn't because he's hidden himself away at No.6 in the batting order, as the Black Caps sought to chase down Paksitan's total of 177 for six.

"I could've got out first ball, batting anywhere,'' said Taylor, who eventually made 26 from 11  balls after promoting Daniel Vettori and Jacob Oram ahead of himself.

"We wanted a right-hand, left-hand combination. We talked about Kane [Williamson] opening the batting before this game, so it was no surprise to us.

"I don't think we lost it there. We dropped too many catches and we probably leaked a few too many runs in that first 10 overs [in the field].''

Williamson opened in place of Martin Guptill, who was a late scratching because of a hamstring strain. He went out with Rob Nicol, who'd been promoted up from No.5.

They put on 53 for the first wicket, before Nicol was bowled for 33.

Brendon McCullm made 32 from 31 balls, without ever really getting going, while Vettori and Oram weren't convincing. It took Taylor and James Franklin, to a degree, to give the Black Caps even a remote chance of winning.

But, as Taylor said, they were probably chasing too many runs for starters.

The bowling and fielding was not the best the team have produced, with the top-two scorers in Pakistan's innings - Mohammad Hafeez and Nasir Jamshed - both given lives.

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When it came time to bat, the Black Caps always seemed to be battling to stay with the asking rate. Hafeez, Saeed Ajmal and Shahid Afridi all proved harder to collar than Bangladesh's spinners had been two days earlier.

"They're world-class spin bowlers [and] I thought it was a totally different wicket,'' Taylor said.

"It didn't really skid on as much as it did the other night. I think it spun a lot more, it was a lot drier but, no, they bowled well. They put the ball in good areas and they asked questions and any time you need 10, 11 runs an over from 12 to 13 overs out, it's going to be a tough ask.''

Guptill should be fit for New Zealand's next match, which is against hosts Sri Lanka on Thursday. He'll open with Rob Nicol, in what Taylor said was the team's first-choice opening partnership.

- Stuff

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