The Curse on the Black Caps: Will there be a redemption?

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If one searches through the World Cup history for poetic justice the kiwis will be the first ones out of the platter. Although they were anything but a venerable side, they had fought their way up in the past ten World Cups and as many as six times saw themselves to the semifinals, yet the taste of the final, let alone the Cup had eluded them every time.

In the 75 it was the mighty West Indies that saw them off and four years later they lost the semifinal to England.

More than a decade later they again had the chance but lost to Pakistan in spite of the winning spree in the group stage, winning 7 out of 8 matches. The same thing was repeated in 1999 as Anwar’s brilliant century ended their dream of reaching the final.

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The Black Caps again fought to their place in the semifinals in 2007 and 2011 but lost to Sri Lanka in both the instances.

In the perspective of the 11th edition it should be remembered that like 1992, New Zealand is co-hosting the World Cup. Like 1992 they have proved to be a surprisingly competent team winning all the matches up till now. Given the batsmanship of the likes of McCullum, Williamson and the pace battery led by Southee and Boult New Zealand is undeniably looking to be in pretty good shape.

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Although it is too early to predict the results of the quarters there is no harm in assuming that New Zealand will qualify to the semis. For they would be finishing the group stage at least in the second position if not at the top, in which case they willbe facing the incompetent Pakistan or the West Indies (or may be Ireland)from pool B who will end up in 3rd and 4th position in some order. So unless some miracles happen the road to the semi-finals is a smooth ride for the kiwis.

Once in the semis they will be facing South Africa or Sri Lanka if Australia manages to defeat the Lankans. Assuming that South Africa gets the better of Sri Lanka we can expect New Zealand to face South Africa and past history tells us New Zealand will be better off in that situation. On the other hand if South Africa is defeated by Sri Lanka in the quarters New Zealanders will face the Lankans in the semis and as mentioned earlier to face Sri Lanka the hosts will have their stomach in knots. Either way this will be a battle against the formidable South Africa or the history itself that New Zealand will encounter as a big hurdle to qualify to the finals.

Will they make it to the finals? Will fate smile upon them this time? Or will they acquire some tag like the “Chokers”? It is hard not to be biased towards the last option if we go by history but like all the past few instances a true cricket fan will have his scale tipped on the first two. It is very hard to predict the results based on the ifs and buts, particularly when the game is cricket. Only time will tell.

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