WC 2003 - It was a stuttered campaign

Published: Saturday, March 15, 2003, 19:36 [IST]
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Centurion: Smarting under a sound seven-wicket thrashing by India, New Zealand skipper Stephen Fleming blamed the approach of his team for its "stuttered" World Cup campaign and said it never looked like wanting to win the trophy."It was a stuttered campaign. It is still stuttering. We are still gasping," Fleming said referring to the team's fate hinging on the outcome of the Sri Lanka-Zimbabwe match on Saturday."We never got into the stride all the way through. We never had the feeling that we were on a run or into a rhythm and that we wanted to win the World Cup," Fleming said as the team's chances of progressing in the premier tournament took a nosedive following the defeat to India on Friday."I think we were always scraping. We had individual performances that were worthy but apart from that we never had the feeling of winning the trophy," he said.Fleming also slammed the team for its "dire performance" in the must-win game against India. It was not a collapse. It was a bad performance all through, starting from ball number two. It was a dire performance on such an important occasion and on such a good batting strip," the Kiwi skipper said. Left-arm seamer Zaheer Khan ripped through the New Zealand top order as the Kiwis were reduced to 38 for three before struggling to put on 146 runs. India achieved the target with almost nine overs to spare. Fleming admitted he was quite "impressed" with India's left-armers. "They are very handy," he said."Your fifth bowler is a worry but it's the same with Australia. At the moment the main bowlers are providing Saurav Ganguly with some good options," he said and then went about praising left-arm seamer Ashish Nehra. "Nehra in particular is bowling very well and he has good rhythm about him. He is deceptively skiddy and quick," Fleming said about the bowler who was responsible for putting the brakes on New Zealand's scoring and bringing the batsmen under pressure."He was outstanding today. Zaheer Khan got the wickets but I thought Nehra bowled a fantastic spell." New Zealand sneaked into the Super Six stage on luck after rains forced South Africa and Sri Lanka to split points in the last league game in Pool B."Last time we were pretty close to packing our bags. I guess we should now go through the same routine," Fleming said.Fleming acknowledged the efforts of Rahul Dravid and Mohammed Kaif, who saw their side through with their 129-run unfinished partnership, but said the match was won by the Indian bowlers. "I have no doubt it was the Indian bowlers," he said."When you are chasing 147, even when early wickets are lost, the batsmen can take their time to reassess the situation, judge the bowling and then go about scoring."Having said that, Kaif and Dravid batted very well. Dravid is a quality player and both had a good opportunity to get into rhythm," he said. Kaif and Dravid came together when India was in trouble at 21 for three in the fifth over. Dravid, who finished unbeaten on 53, could have been out for one had wicket-keeper Brendon McCullum not dropped a straight forward chance. Kaif, who made 68 not out, was also lucky in the early part of the innings when a few uppish drives just eluded the fielders."Dropped catches are always disappointing, more so because it involved Rahul. 146 was never enough but to win the game, you needed to take all the chances."As for that dropped chance by Brendon, I could not really see it because I had tears in my eye," the Kiwi skipper said. PTI

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