Divy Tripathi |
India and New Zealand will face off in the finals of the World Test Championship at The Rose Bowl, Southampton on 18th June, 2021.
New Zealand have the added advantage of playing a two-Test series against England prior to the final. They would also feel that their pace quartet (Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Neil Wagner and Kyle Jamieson) would be better suited to the English conditions. With a victory in the finals, Kane Williamson would hope to add an ICC trophy to his cabinet.
In recent years, New Zealand have come quite close to winning an ICC Trophy, but haven’t quite been able to seal the deal.
The last World Cup finals in 2019 was a heartbreak for New Zealand fans, when they missed out on a victory by the barest of margins.
In 2015, they were led by the brave Brendon McCullum, and were unbeaten through the tournament as they marched their way to the finals. However, they fumbled against Mitchell Johnson, James Faulkner and Mitchell Starc and it was their neighbours, Australia, who ended up as World champions.
Even in the past, New Zealand has maintained a steady run in their ICC tournament appearances, usually making it to the knock-out stages. However, they have failed to win the ultimate prize.
So, they reached the 2009 ICC Champions Trophy finals, but lost to Australia. They made the semi-finals of the 2011 ICC World Cup but were soundly beaten by Sri Lanka.
There have been many heartbreaks, but New Zealand’s trophy cabinet isn’t quite empty. They won the 2000 ICC Knockout Trophy quite convincingly.
The 2000 ICC Knockout Trophy took place in Kenya. Nairobi was no stranger to the game, having witnessed several international and domestic matches in the past.
The tournament was played in a knock-out format, where the positions of respective teams in the previous World Cup, i.e., the 1999 edition, determined whether they would be placed in pre-quarter final or quarter final.
New Zealand, who were the semi-finalists in the 1999 competition, got to play the quarters. They were to play against fellow automatic quarter-finalists, Zimbabwe.
The Chevrons were no easy opponents. Zimbabwe possessed the greatest team in their cricketing history and could get the better of any team on their day. This can be attested by the fact that New Zealand would go on to lose back-to-back One Day International series against Zimbabwe in the 2000-01 season.
On this occasion though, New Zealand beat Zimbabwe with ease. Once placed at a slightly precarious situation of 120 for 4, they got to 264 and then were able to bowl out Zimbabwe for 201.
Their next encounter was against Pakistan. The men in green often got the better of New Zealand in those days and were favourites to win the game. Pakistan had faced New Zealand twice in World Cup Semi-finals in the 90s and had chased to win in both the matches.
The latest of these was in 1999 and both sides bore a fairly similar look to the outfits that had met at Old Trafford. New Zealand were further dented as their star all-rounder, Chris Cairns, was missing this game.
In the semi-finals, Pakistan won the toss and chose to bat first. They got off to a decent start, but Shayne O’Connor & co., kept them limited to a total of 252. Roger Twose and Craig McMillan then helped them overcome a tricky chase and New Zealand made it to the finals.
In the finals, they were up against a young Indian team, who were making a comeback after the match-fixing scandal had hit their setup. The side had gelled well under Sourav Ganguly’s leadership. They had beaten some top-notch opposition in Australia and South Africa.
On the other hand, New Zealand were boosted by the return of Chris Cairns. Deciding to field in the finals (In recent games, sides winning the toss had chosen to bat first), New Zealand held India to 264. This was achieved at the back of some good fielding, which helped break India’s momentum at right times to keep them from reaching a total of 280-290.
While batting, they were in trouble early on, with half their team back in the shed at the score of 132. However, it was Chris Cairns who came to the party and helped New Zealand win the trophy.
New Zealand of 90s were a decent cricketing team, but often fell short against better sides like Australia, South Africa and Pakistan. Thus, the 2000 ICC Champions Trophy win would always be a special one for the New Zealand fans.