New Zealand retains a mathematical chance of qualifying for the Twenty20 World Cup semifinals, despite last night's miserable six-wicket loss to England.
Sri Lanka easily defeated the West Indies by nine wickets in the second Super 8s match of the night, at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium, to put them through to the semis.
England are second in Group 1, thanks to their victory over the Black Caps, with the West Indies third. The Windies beat England back on Thursday, leaving New Zealand as the only side in the group without a win.
Even so, they can still advance provided a couple of things happen.
First, they need to beat the West Indies comfortably in their final Super 8s match, starting at 11pm (NZT) tomorrow night.
Sri Lanka would then need to do the same to England, which would leave the hosts with three wins and the others one each.
Net run-rate would then be the decisive factor and the Black Caps have some work to do to improve their's. Still, it could happen and they have to go into the Windies clash in an optimistic frame of mind.
In terms of their defeat to England, whether you were here at Pallekle, or game enough to sit through this match back at home, the conclusion about this Black Caps team was the same - if Brendon McCullum doesn't get a big score, they don't win.
You can say what you like about which players preformed well against England, and whether New Zealand got the rub of the green from the game's Laws or the standing umpires Simon Taufel and Asad Rauf. But the beginning, middle and end of the whole thing was that McCullum scored just 10.
Dating back to June 30, and their clash with the West Indies in Florida, New Zealand have played nine Twenty20 matches and won only two.
In the first of those victories, at Chennai, McCullum scored 91 and the Black Caps got up to beat India by a run.
Then here, in their opening game of the Twenty20 World Cup against Bangladesh, he made 123 to help New Zealand to a 59-run win.
McCullum missed three of those nine games, being rested for the two in Florida and then injured when New Zealand played their first world cup warm-up match here.
He played the second of those warm-ups, against South Africa when he made nine, and has then had scores of 32, 25 and 10 in the three games the team has lost during the actual world cup tournament.
Who all that's an indictment upon will depend on your point of view.
Some will say McCullum only gets soft runs against second-rate teams and fails when it really matters. Or there's the argument that it's McCullum's team-mates that are the under-achievers for their inability to make game-changing contributions on the days when he doesn't fire.
What can't be forgotten is that McCullum is the most prolific scorer in the history of international Twenty20 cricket and, for the time being at least, his 190 runs remain the highest aggregate of any player at this tournament. Statistics have been known to lie on the odd occasion, but not over a sustained period of time, and his are a darn sight better than anyone else in this Black Caps team.
Without McCullum going big overnight, it was left to James Franklin to make New Zealand's only significant contribution. He demonstrated the kind of skill and ball-striking ability that people have always known he had, but his 33-ball knock of 50 was more of the face-saving, than match-winning, variety.
It helped the Black Caps post 148 for six in their 20 overs, which was always going to be too few. Taylor reckoned 155 was a par score on that Pallekele pitch and the 129 for five the West Indies made afterwards probably endorsed that view.
But then their one world-class player, Chris Gayle, only made two and Sri Lanka chased down the target with nine wickets and 28 balls to spare.
Whatever par was, the Black Caps didn't reach it and deservedly lost, as a result.
Daniel Vettori (one for 20), Kyle Mills (one for 23) and Nathan McCullum (one for 22) did all you could ask with the ball, but the support cast let them down.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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