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Needed to be better – Kane Williamson

Kane Williamson finds himself in an awkward position, having to look back after playing two matches of the tournament. There is a real possibility of New Zealand missing out on the 2024 T20 World Cup after losing to the West Indies in Trinidad, as they are left at the mercy of other results. A win for in-form Afghanistan against Papua New Guinea tomorrow would ensure they will not be at the semi-final stage of an ICC White-Ball World Cup for the first time since 2015.

The New Zealand captain was asked if it felt unrealistic to think the tournament could end so soon for his team, given that the tournament had started quite late, with them having to bat first in the 14th game of the tournament. “It is a bit,” he replied.

But I think the conditions we have seen throughout the competition have proved to be challenging – so we expect it to be like that and the margins are very thin on these wickets and it’s about trying to find ways to attack in some small parts of the game to basically keep the team going because there doesn’t seem to be a lot of rhythm in what we are seeing but that’s what we have in front of us, that’s the challenge that is there, what is set and we have to try to get better at it.

“Yeah, it’s disappointing the way we have started, absolutely. The conditions are the same for everyone, so it’s about trying to learn. We have to play the game again [against Uganda] and so we need to get better for the experience, we need to perform better and get that knowledge, but as you mentioned the equation looks tough.”

New Zealand were always going to be in trouble in the race for qualification after losing to Afghanistan. In a group with tough contenders, an early setback against any one of them can make progress difficult, as India found out in 2021. However, New Zealand started well against the West Indies and lost 5 wickets for 30 runs to the tournament co-hosts inside the seventh over. This was followed by a tremendous comeback led by Sherfane Rutherford, who hit an unbeaten 68 off 39 balls to take his side to a final match-winning score of 149.

New Zealand were always in trouble in the race for qualification after losing to Afghanistan. In a group of strong contenders, an early setback against any of them can make progress difficult, as India found out in 2021. However, New Zealand started well against the West Indies and the tournament co-hosts were 30 for 5 in the seventh over. This was followed by a tremendous comeback led by Sherfane Rutherford, who scored an unbeaten 68 off 39 balls to take his team to a match-winning score of 149. In an attempt to bowl out the West Indies, Williamson took the risk of putting his fast bowlers up front and this led to him bowling Daryl Mitchell and Mitchell Santner in the 19th and 20th overs respectively. The result was that New Zealand lost 37 runs in those two overs and the momentum of the contest changed wildly. “Yeah, we knew we needed to get Rutherford out and I think the depth of the West Indies batting worked to their advantage, certainly on that surface today,” Williamson said. “You know it’s going to be difficult; you know three balls here or there can really level the score and they were able to do that. So, for us to try and get that wicket and get the opportunity to restrict them to the 120 area, I think was worth doing and it didn’t come to fruition.

“I think any over they [Mitchell and Santner] would have been on target and so that’s the difference you always deal with, I think, nowadays in T20 cricket with teams that bat so deep. And so, I think you are always trying to play a game of cat and mouse.”

“Look, from 90 for seven, no matter what the conditions, to get to 150 was a fantastic effort and incredibly smart and calculated batting from Rutherford. To make that kind of contribution on that surface was world-class and really got them a strong score on that wicket. Having said that, it was half the match and we knew we needed to do some hard work in that second innings and try and bowl one or two overs that could open up the game. We haven’t been able to do that. We knew it was going to be tough and I think the players have worked hard. But West Indies know these conditions well and they are playing good cricket and unfortunately, as I said, it wasn’t to be today.”

Despite the defeat and the possibility of an early exit, Williamson dismissed the ‘end of an era’ narrative. “I think there are still some players who will be here for a while

You come into a world event; you want to get off to a good start. And honestly we should have done better in these conditions. We know it’s going to be a real struggle and it’s not going to be easy, but if you win a few little moments, matchups go in your favour, it can really be a defining element for your whole tournament and that hasn’t happened for us which is disappointing, but there’s no doubt that after a tournament like this you re-look at what you do and how you do it and what conditions you’ve experienced and consider ways to get better.