Ferguson, New Zealand eye 2019 semis repeat against India at Wankhede

by IANS |

Mumbai, Nov ) New Zealand reached the final of the 2019 edition of the World Cup by beating India in the semifinal. As they get ready to face India at the same stage in the 2023 edition, New Zealand will be hoping for a repeat of the 2019 result, at the Wankhede Stadium here on Wednesday.

However, New Zealand fast bowler Lockie Ferguson stopped just short of saying the Black Caps will take inspiration from their 2019 ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup win against India when the two teams meet at the same stage in Mumbai on Wednesday.

Ferguson was part of the New Zealand side that denied India in an extraordinary semifinal in Manchester four years ago – a game that spanned two days thanks to significant rain delays. The match is etched in Ferguson's mind as he played a role with the ball as New Zealand successfully defended 239/8 at Old Trafford in 2019, returning tidy figures of 1/43 from his ten overs as India struggled to get momentum after early wickets in their chase.

And while the Black Caps' quick bowler says the 2019 semifinal match was a superb memory for him and his teammates, he was quick to point out that the two teams have changed a lot in the intervening World Cup cycle.

“Four years ago was a pretty spectacular game,” Ferguson said in a pre-match press conference on Monday. “I've never played a one-day game over two days, it’s literally not even in the title. So, I think playing that game was pretty incredible and obviously very pleasing for us at the time.

“But four years have gone past, we've played a lot of cricket in between, and both teams I'm sure are raring to go come Wednesday," Ferguson said.

Four years may have passed, but this crop of New Zealand players are continuing the nation’s extraordinary record in men’s white-ball competitions.

New Zealand have reached the semifinal of their fifth consecutive World Cup semifinal, having been losing finalists in 2019 and 2015 and semifinalists in 2011 and 2007.

Besides, New Zealand have also made three consecutive semifinal appearances in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cups (in 2016, 2021 and 2022).

Asked what was the reason for this consistent performance, Ferguson said that was partly down to the team’s level mindset.

“Certainly, from our point of view, when we start the competition, much like every other team we're here to win it, but of course we know there's a process,” he said.

“We sort of stick to our processes and, I know it sounds cliche, but I think it keeps us sort of level-headed and naturally as Kiwis we tend to stay where our feet are, which I think is a positive.

“But yeah, we look forward to big tournaments. Obviously, this one being in India is pretty spectacular with the fans and the support. We've been loving seeing all the New Zealand jerseys around too, so that's certainly helping us.”

New Zealand's campaign in the 2023 World Cup has been marred by injuries with skipper Kane Williamson missing a few matches because of an injury. 

They will go into Wednesday's semifinal without Matt Henry, who suffered an injury earlier in the tournament.

“I think we look good here; Matt Henry is obviously a big hole in our side and we're still a handsome bunch without Matt,” Ferguson joked.

“I guess I'll take that on the chin… but now from a cricket point of view – Tim Southee brings a lot of experience obviously being captain of the test team, captain in T20s and one-days too, so I think that experience counts for a lot. He's also played a lot in India, which is great too.

“Obviously, we’re pretty disheartened with how Matt exited the World Cup, which was such a shame.

“We know injuries always come at the worst time, but no doubt he'll be supporting from back home and Tim Southee is raring to go.”

New Zealand had an up-and-down campaign in the World Cup 2023. They started on a good note by winning their first four matches but lost momentum when they suffered four successive defeats before sealing their place in the semifinal by beating Sri Lanka handsomely in their ninth match. 

They now have to regroup and put their best foot forward in the semifinal against India.

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