'We've got to play two good games' - McCullum
Brendon McCullum is a man with the glint of a risk-taker in his eye and he has been understandably impressed by Netherlands' heady style of play at the World T20. New Zealand's captain was in a relaxed mood after his team sat out the previous round of Group 1 games and had allowed himself to enjoy the "fan point of view" when following the drama that played out between Netherlands and South Africa in Chittagong on Thursday.
South Africa moved above New Zealand with their second Group 1 win, by the margin of six runs against Netherlands, while England's win over Sri Lanka ratcheted up the competition for two semi-final places. McCullum described Netherlands' "courageous" approach as being "rocks or diamonds" - they have certainly displayed some stones in matches against Ireland and South Africa - and said his team would be wary of the wildcard threat.
"The way the Dutch play is I think incredibly courageous, rocks or diamonds, so to speak, they're either going to come off or they're not," McCullum said. "It takes balls to play like that, hence they're a dangerous team to play against, because they don't fear the losing side of things, or if it doesn't work out. We've prepared well, hopefully if we play well we should be strong enough but you never know in this game."
Run rate could yet determine who goes through, with several permutations currently possible, and Sri Lanka took full advantage in their dam-bustering destruction of Netherlands earlier in the week. McCullum said he had not concerned himself with the mathematics but intended on New Zealand not letting the potential complexities get in the way of playing their game.
"For us, we've got to play two good games of cricket, we've got to beat Netherlands well tomorrow and Sri Lanka two days after that," he said. "If we don't, then we don't deserve to be here at the back end of the tournament.
"I think if we can play to our potential then the gap between the teams tomorrow should take care of that run-rate stuff. If we don't play well, we could get beat. Run rate may become a factor but you can't be too consumed by that, ultimately you've got to look at how you want to play and play to that potential. If you don't, you leave luck in other people's hands."
New Zealand could have been in a strong position at the top of the group if they had managed to finish off a run chase against South Africa on Monday, when they needed seven runs off the final over with six wickets in hand. Dale Steyn closed them out with a display of almost peerless skill and intensity and McCullum said that, while they had spent some time analysing the result, he took the "philosophical" view.
"We can't be too upset about it. We got ourselves in a very strong position to win that game and the percentages were firmly in our favour and we coughed up that opportunity, so that's disappointing. But we can't do anything about that so we've got to focus on what's in front of us."
Given the remaining match-ups, New Zealand and Sri Lanka's final group fixture could become a knockout proposition in all but name. McCullum was keeping his eyes firmly down. "We'll deal with it when we deal with it, we've seen what looking too far in front of yourself in this game can do so the message to the group is very strong, that we need to prepare today to play tomorrow, then we execute our skills. Once we do that, and we do it properly, we give ourselves a good chance of playing Sri Lanka in effectively a quarter-final. But we won't be looking at that until after this game."
Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here