27 Oct 2021

Black Caps know importance of India clash at T20 World Cup

4:03 pm on 27 October 2021

The Black Caps say they're well aware their title ambitions could be on the line in their next match at the T20 World Cup.

Gary Stead and Kane Williamson.
New Zealand Black Caps team training ahead of their game against England on Wednesday. Newcastle, UK.

Photo: Photosport

After losing their opener to Pakistan by five wickets in Sharjah on Wednesday morning, New Zealand faced a crucial encounter with India in Dubai in five days time.

That's because only the top two teams from the two groups of six would advance to the semifinals.

Black Caps coach Gary Stead said with India also losing to Pakistan, Monday's game became very important for both sides.

"If you look through the seeded teams, and the way it's going, you'd imagine Pakistan are hot favourites now in our group to be the number one seed.

"There's probably the rest of us that are fighting it out for that next spot, which makes this next game against India pretty critical."

The match was set to present plenty of challenges for New Zealand.

One of the pre-tournament favourites, India would also be highly motivated after that historic first World Cup loss to arch-rivals Pakistan.

Pakistan's Shaheen Shah Afridi (L) reacts after dismissing India's captain Virat Kohli during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup match


Stead said while they knew the Indian team was full of class, he was confident the lessons from the Black Caps' opening loss could help keep their title hopes alive.

"We will have to take the game as deep as we can, and have a little bit of luck probably go our way as well ... but we're looking forward to what's ahead of us.

"You sometimes have to lose one to find out the most important things for you. If we can go out and beat India then we certainly put ourselves back on the right track."

Stead did mention, though, there was one piece of unfinished business from the Pakistan match.

New Zealand had hoped to have played fast bowler Adam Milne, after fellow speedster Lockie Ferguson was ruled out of the tournament earlier on game day with a calf injury.

However, clearance for injury cover Milne to officially join the squad wasn't granted by the ICC until around an hour after Wednesday's game was completed.

Adam Milne in action for the Black Caps against Bangladesh inTwenty20 cricket match international at Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand. Thursday 1 April 2021.

Photo: Photosport Ltd 2021

Stead said the performance of Pakistan quick Haris Rauf, who returned the impressive figures of 4-22, showed what Milne could have provided for New Zealand on the Sharjah pitch.

The Black Caps coach added they would be seeking further clarification from the ICC on how the situation played out.

"The most unsettling thing for us is we probably changed the team three times on that decision.

"Originally we thought we'd got the clearance for Adam to play but then [we were] turned down.

"We were questioning it with the ICC as much as an hour-and-a-half out from the game."

Meanwhile, Stead they would be monitoring Martin Guptill during the next 48 hours after the opening batsman took a blow to the big toe while batting.

Stead said Guptill appeared to be in "a bit of discomfort" come the end of the match" but was hopeful there wasn't any significant damage.