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Sri Lanka v New Zealand, World Cup 2011, 1st semi-final, Colombo

Ross Taylor targets another upset

Sidharth Monga in Colombo

March 27, 2011

Comments: 85 | Text size: A | A

South Africa didn't play a bunch of dummies who had to just turn up in Dhaka and watch Graeme Smith's men crumble from a vantage point.

One of the undesirable fallouts of South Africa's exit from the World Cup, depressing as it was to their fans, is the focus on South Africa's choke. The talk all around the cricketing world has been how South Africa lived up to their record of not having won a single knockout game in World Cups, of their mental brittleness in big events, of what future holds for them, and the other team that won the match has been all but forgotten.

New Zealand played a game too, you know. Jesse Ryder showed a glimpse of how good a batsman he is before a charged-up New Zealand side, yelling, hollering, sledging, intimidating, pulled off the best fielding performance of the World Cup. They were a team possessed. They didn't want to go home, they wanted to settle a score with a ground that consigned them to their lowest low. They were not a bunch of dummies.

Quietly they have slipped into Sri Lanka, "warmer than Dhaka, not as hot as Mumbai", facing a far tougher task than the one they accomplished in Dhaka, that of beating a team much more naturally talented, much more varied, playing in home conditions, used to conditions warmer than Dhaka but not as hot as Mumbai.

And it's staying under the radar that they are hanging on to. "Most of the time New Zealand play we are underdogs," Ross Taylor, who has captained New Zealand in some of the games this World Cup, said two days before their sixth semi-final in 10 World Cups. "It's something we almost enjoy, and we expect when we play. I know a lot of teams expect to beat us, and we enjoy the underdog tag, and we expect to beat them as well.

Ross Taylor in the nets ahead of New Zealand's semi-final against Sri Lanka, World Cup 2011, Colombo, March 27 2011
Ross Taylor: "We genuinely believe we can go one step further and make the final" © Getty Images

"I don't think too many other people gave us a chance, which probably made other teams take us a bit lighter than they normally would, which played into our hands, but you know it's going to be a tough game on Tuesday, one that we are looking forward to."

New Zealand have played Sri Lanka before in this tournament, and the result was not too encouraging, a defeat by 112 runs at a ground these teams will be fighting for the right to play at. Taylor sees having played Sri Lanka as an advantage, as an opportunity to have made the mistakes in a game not so big. "It's a new game," he said. "We are taking a lot of confidence from our last game against South Africa. We have got an advantage that we have played against Sri Lanka in the pool matches, and we did a few things wrong. Hopefully we can rectify that in the match on Tuesday."

New Zealand, in a way a team not too dissimilar to England who were demolished by Sri Lanka in the quarter-final, seek to learn from the way England played. "Watching parts of the game and analysing the way England played and where they went wrong and where Sri Lanka went wrong, but we have got a lot of momentum in our camp. We were happy with the way we fielded, and hopefully we can continue with that and put Sri Lanka under pressure."

Taylor said the side was desperate to translate the record of having made six semi-finals into something more significant. "We are proud of our history of making semi-finals, but looking at this team we want to make history and go one step further and make the final," he said. "We genuinely believe we can do that, and we want to show that on Tuesday."

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Comments: 85 
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Posted by Dummy4 on (March 29, 2011, 12:49 GMT)

Yeah, It will be a historic defeat for NZ, thats for sure

Posted by Mohamed on (March 29, 2011, 8:01 GMT)

Kiwis can do it. They are highly motivated. Kiwi bowlers quickly adopt to the pitch conditions, but their batting must click. Srilankans batting will succumb under pressure. Best luck to Kiwis.

Posted by shashank on (March 29, 2011, 7:51 GMT)

srilanka are easily the best team among the semi finalists , unless they do something stupid they should win this world cup.

Posted by Nataratna on (March 28, 2011, 14:15 GMT)

It all depends on the man himself....ROSS TAYLOR.........if New zealand has to win this match.He is the one who can make a difference between par score and match winning score by caning Srilankan spinners and malinga....Or while chasing he will be the key....Good Luck Kiwis......

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 28, 2011, 13:50 GMT)

this time both NZ and India will be losers. sri lanka has mor ethan enough of wt it takes to be world champions again. guys itz a game with lions. beware !

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 28, 2011, 11:25 GMT)

They cud surprise Sri Lanka

Posted by Anil on (March 28, 2011, 11:21 GMT)

This time Sri Lanka's confident are anything above...and that is a good thing for Kiwi's I recon. NZ have bunch of good players and are capable of competing against anyone in world cricket. After all cricket is funny game (especially in knock out stages) and anyone can overcome anybody. Who knows who is receiving and giving end at Tuesday!!!

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 28, 2011, 10:58 GMT)

this world cup has been dominated by INDIA, yet i see them as d favourites, but with the likes of ROSS taylor and some brilliance in d NZ team.. i def. believe they can make it to the FINAL, n giv INDIA a very stiff competition!

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 28, 2011, 10:53 GMT)

NZ is going to smash Sri Lanka! They will get too cocky like the South Africans! haha

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 28, 2011, 10:47 GMT)

sachin will make history & he will give worldcup for india

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