Cricket World Cup diary: With phase one ticked off for Black Caps, it's time for a step up

Cricket World Cup Diary Day 10

Kane Williamson and Tom Latham at the end of the match shake hands with Afghanistan players after the seven wicket win. Source: Photosport

Phase one is complete.

Three from three for the Black Caps and still atop the Cricket World Cup standings. But boy, does it take an almighty step up now. From Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan… to India.

Pros and cons so far

The seven-wicket win over Afghanistan was, largely, as straightforward as it looks. The only real issue the lack of wickets for openers Trent Boult and Matt Henry.

Henry’s been excellent to date, with strong performances against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Boult’s lack of wickets is slightly concerning, but while New Zealand’s pre-tournament strike weapon only has three scalps from the three games, he probably hasn’t been rewarded for how well he’s actually bowled.

His economy rate is low, making it harder for teams to get off to the fast starts that were being predicted.

Make no mistake though; despite being three-from-three on six points, with a superior and potentially important net run-rate of +2.163 and with strong performances from key players (knocks from Guptill, Taylor and Williamson and bowling efforts from Henry, Ferguson and last night Neesham) the Black Caps will know all too well, the momentum will count for nothing with a poor showing against India on Thursday night (NZT).

One foot in the Top Four

On the other side of things, though, they are now well set up for the semi-finals. A win over India will put them on the cusp of the final four already – they’d need just two more victories to guarantee that spot while one win could be enough anyway.

So, the draw could well play into their hands.

New Zealand’s remaining games include the struggling South Africa and the West Indies, who the Black Caps have had the wool over recently in the ODI format, winning six of their last seven. Surely they’ll beat at least one of them.

All of these factors should give them a huge amount of confidence heading into what will be one of their biggest games of the round robin stage.

Some sleeping advice

They’re not the only ones (hopefully) pacing themselves through this draw. I’ve tried to have a couple of decent nights of sleep, to launch for the important games approaching.

I advise this of you Black Caps fans if you’re hoping to see out the tournament! Overnight I set my alarm for the chase against Afghanistan, turned on the TV and the very first thing that popped up on screen was Martin Guptill edging one onto his pads and into the hands of an Afghanistan fielder, for a first ball duck.

I watched another 90 minutes and decided sleep, with what to come, was more important than seeing New Zealand cruise to victory.

With Australia taking on India tonight, South Africa against the West Indies tomorrow, Australia and Pakistan on Wednesday and New Zealand’s meeting with India on Thursday, it’s a smorgasbord of cricket that could go a fair way to giving an outline of the semi-finals.

Follow the Black Caps’ lead. Pace yourselves.

There’s a lot of important cricket to come.