John Wright, the New Zealand coach, has backed his side's aggressive approach during their quarter-final win against South Africa in Mirpur. An on-field spat saw New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori and Kyle Mills, along with South Africa's Francois du Plessis, fined by the match referee for breaching the ICC's code of conduct.
"I like the aggression of the team, particularly in the field," Wright said ahead of the semi-final against Sri Lanka in Colombo. "That's important. We've got to play with passion and they're showing that. The odd thing happens. But that's international sport."
Defending a modest 221, New Zealand put South Africa under tremendous pressure in Mirpur, by producing one of the best fielding displays of the tournament. The aggression boiled over in the 28th over of South Africa's chase, when there was an altercation between du Plessis and some of the New Zealand players following AB de Villiers' crucial run-out. Mills, who was not in the playing XI for New Zealand, along with Vettori and some other team-mates, became embroiled in a heated exchange with du Plessis and de Villiers, who had remained on the field to offer support to his team-mate.
Wright, however, made light of the incident. "It made reasonably interesting viewing for those out there," he said. "It happened and it was dealt with. The players on both sides knew there was a lot at stake, which is what you expect of any South Africa-New Zealand contest.
"I think the boys were committed, they wanted to win and made their presence felt. We're all pretty pleased right now. We did a lot of preparation for that game and achieved plenty of game-plan targets."
While praising the purposeful fielding and bowling efforts, Wright admitted that the batting had to lift ahead of the semi-final. "We were probably 20 runs short [against South Africa], but knew if we got 220-plus it was defendable," Wright said. "We are making up for it in the field and with the ball. We have to bat well [against Sri Lanka], that is the key for us."