Underdone New Zealand already on the brink

Kane Williamson guides a legbreak from Rashid Khan straight into the lap of Gulbadin Naib at first slip and throws his head back in disappointment.

New Zealand’s batting was worked over by pace and spinICC/Getty Images

Former New Zealand coach Mike Hesson, who had coached Islamabad United to the PSL title earlier this year, was also critical of New Zealand’s fielding and their decision to rock up cold without playing warm-ups.

“We looked really underdone,” Hesson told Sky Sport NZ. “We actually looked disinterested at times when things actually started to not go our way. The body language dropped in the field, which is certainly not what Kane Williamson will be pleased with at all. From there, they gave Afghanistan a bit of momentum and there were some chances that New Zealand missed. Devon Conway certainly looked like he hadn’t played cricket in three months, which he obviously hadn’t, and I felt for him. The fact that there’s been no warm-up games for this Black Caps side…unfortunately, there was no surprise with the performance they put in.”

Given the draw – New Zealand were among the last of the 20 teams to start the T20 World Cup – they were always meant to play catch-up. Their 84-run drubbing in their opener has now put them so far behind that they’re on the brink of being knocked out in an obvious group of death, in which Afghanistan and West Indies have coasted to two wins each. Afghanistan’s eye-popping net run-rate of 5.225 means they already have one foot in the Super Eights, leaving New Zealand facing West Indies, who also have a healthy run-rate (3.574), in a must-win on June 12 in Trinidad, the home to several West Indies T20 superstars.

In their most recent T20I match at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy, West Indies toppled England for a 3-2 series win, with left-arm fingerspinners Akeal Hosein and Gudakesh Motie taking five wickets between them for just 44 runs in their eight overs on a sluggish track last December. New Zealand understand that they have no margin for error from hereon.

“Well, they [West Indies] are an amazing T20 team. They’re a strong team that can change the game very quickly and it’s obviously their home conditions as well,” Luke Ronchi, New Zealand’s batting coach, said upon the squad’s arrival in Trinidad on Saturday. “They have a lot of guys from Trinidad playing in their team, so they know the conditions and the ground at the Brian Lara Stadium. It’s [about] making sure we do what we do. That’s something we missed in the first game.”

Even if New Zealand hit the ground running against West Indies, they could well suffer an early exit, considering their poor net run-rate (minus 4.2), unless the co-hosts lose to Afghanistan.

One rust-ridden, un-New Zealand performance may have unravelled an entire World Cup campaign.

Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo