New Zealand v Pakistan, 1st semi-final, Cape Town September 22, 2007

Vettori puzzled by semis curse

Pakistan march on as New Zealand fall in the semi-finals again © Getty Images

After New Zealand tumbled out in yet another semi-final, Daniel Vettori hit out at Imran Nazir's use of a runner during Pakistan's chase at Newlands. Nazir, claiming a groin problem, called for assistance at the end of the second over but continued to use his feet comfortably to loft sixes before being dismissed for 59 off 41 balls.

Vettori was among a number of New Zealand players who made their displeasure at the situation clear to Nazir although they allowed him to continue with a runner. Shoaib Malik started the job before Mohammad Hafeez took over at the fall of the first wicket, and Nazir cleared the boundary five times before falling lbw to Jeetan Patel with Pakistan in sight of victory.

"I think it was pretty obvious," said Vettori. "A man who brings a runner onto the field then has the ability to charge down the wicket and clear his leg, then sprint out to celebrate victory means he's not injured.

"We were upset with that, we allowed him to have it [the runner] but when you carry on that way there has got to be some suspicion. When he leapt into another player's arms we thought his groin was fine. That's not the way we play cricket."

However, Malik flat-batted the issue in his press conference saying: "Nazir was struggling with his groin and couldn't run at the time."

New Zealand, however, were a distant second-best for much of the game once an opening stand of 50 between Brendon McCullum and Lou Vincent had been broken. It left Vettori, in his first major tournament as captain, in a familiar position of his predecessor, Stephen Fleming, in trying to work out why the Kiwis can't cross that final hurdle.

"It's hard to pinpoint, Pakistan bowled and fielded pretty well and we put ourselves in a bit of a mire in terms of runs and we thought we had to catch up and that's when wickets fell," said Vettori. "It just proceeded through the innings and we couldn't get any momentum going. The start was good, perhaps not as quick as we would have liked, although Lou and Brendon did a good job but we allowed the Pakistan team to dictate to us."

The match-winning spell came from Umar Gul who took out three key wickets with his mixture of slower balls, yorkers and bouncers. New Zealand had formulated a plan to combat Gul's threat, but they were never in a position to utilise it.

"We knew he'd [Gul] been doing that job during the tournament, coming on and bowling straight through and he's done well," said Vettori. "His yorkers have been good and he's hit the deck hard. We hoped to have wickets in hand so that we could attack hard at the other and let Umar bowl. But we had to go after him and four overs for 15 kills you in Twenty20."

During the tournament Vettori has been one of the players who hasn't appeared convinced by Twenty20, but this defeat really hurt. "This is probably the worst I've felt, as captain you probably feel it a bit more and once again it was another chance to make the final of a major tournament we felt that we could win.

"We were a lot more relaxed than previous semi-finals and we'll have to go back to the drawing-board and take a look at it. Unfortunately we are labelled as not being able to get to finals. We have to find out a solution to get over the line, I don't have a magic answer but I know we'll be ready next time the chance comes."

Andrew McGlashan is a staff writer on Cricinfo