ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News
Sri Lanka v New Zealand, World Cup 2011, 1st semi-final, Colombo
Ross Taylor targets another upset
Sidharth Monga in Colombo
March 27, 2011
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.
"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."