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WT20: New Zealand eye fruit of hardwork against England in semis

Williamson & Co turn to innovative training methods to ensure maiden World Twenty20 final berth in Kotla today

New Delhi: New Zealand coach Mike Hesson was seen having a long chat with a groundsman with his pace bowlers Trent Boult and Tim Southee giving him company, while overlooking the Feroz Shah Kotla wicket here yesterday on the eve of their ICC World T20 semi-final against England.

New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson bats in the nets yesterday. Pics/AFP, PTI
New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson bats in the nets yesterday. Pics/AFP, PTI

A win will send the Black Caps into their first-ever World T20 final and will provide them another chance to have a crack at the World title after finishing runners-up in the World Cup last year. Twenty20 cricket is the toughest format to display consistency, but the Kiwis have done well to win all four matches in the lead up to the semi-final.

Hesson, who hasn't even played first-class cricket, is at the centre of New Zealand's success. Apart from reading the pitches perfectly in Nagpur, Dharamsala, Mohali and Kolkata, his training programmes have been far from routine, yet effective.

For instance, to tackle Pakistan's left-arm pace attack, he sought the services of only left-arm bowlers in the net session. To get accustomed to the dew factor in Mohali, Mitchell McClenaghan sprinkled water on the ball, while bowling in the nets.

New Zealand bowlers Nathan McCullum (left), Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi (right) are all set to roll their arms during a practice session at Feroz Shah Kotla in New Delhi yesterday
New Zealand bowlers Nathan McCullum (left), Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi (right) are all set to roll their arms during a practice session at Feroz Shah Kotla in New Delhi yesterday

One hasn't seen any NZ top-order batsmen bat for more than 15 to 20 balls at one go in the nets. The reason: T20 cricket does not allow so much time for a batsman to face so many deliveries at one go.

Yesterday, to counter Adil Rashid's leg-spin and Moeen Ali's off-spin, Hesson extensively made the leg-spinner and offies bowl in the nets to Corey Anderson, Martin Guptill and Colin Munro.

Batting coach Craig McMillan trained his fieldsmen to cut the ones and twos, and deliberately hit the ball high in the air between two fielders, to ensure they called out early for their catches. Since fielders cannot slide as smoothly on Indian grounds as compared to outfields in foreign countries, the Kiwi fielders have been urged to try and reach the ball early.

The difference between New Zealand and the other teams has been their open-ended approach, where they are not worried about tinkering with a winning combination.

'NZ will stay grounded'
"From my perspective, I'm just trying to do the best I can with many other leaders in the group. It's important to come up with certain game plans, but ultimately it's the players that are executing them on the day, which we have done well till this moment.

Going into tomorrow, it's a big, exciting match, but our feet are firmly on the ground and we want to perform as best as we can," said New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson in response to a query on their approach for this match.

Going by their practice session, the signs are ominous that either Boult or Southee may get a look in for the first time in the tournament today.

Captains' wishlist
Kane Williamson New Zealand
> He provides a flying start with Martin Guptill
> Spinner Ish Sodhi provides crucial breakthroughs
> Pacers David Willey, Chris Jordan go for runs

Eoin Morgan England
> Jason Roy continues to fire at the top
> Moeen Ali provides a fine all-round show
> NZ openers Martin Guptill & Williamson fail miserably

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