Martin Devlin: Why Black Caps must win against Pakistan tonight

Martin Devlin,
Publish Date
Wednesday, 26 June 2019, 1:05PM


The Black Caps have to beat Pakistan tonight, plain and simple.

Yes, we're in a great position, yes, we have done everything right so far, and yes, if we don't we win this match there is still the mathematical possibility we could also miss out on the semi-finals. It's unlikely given our current position and form but the mere fact it could happen should be enough to focus all our efforts into ensuring that it won't.

For those of us with longer memories, Pakistan has been our bogey team too many times at this tournament to ever take them lightly. The semi-final defeats in both 1992 and 1999 provide enough historical context to make this match a potential banana skin that must be approached with caution.

As the calculators come out and the crystal ball gazing begins in earnest, we have three matches left with two of those against opponents equally desperate to secure one of the three remaining play-off spots. The way it stands, only Australia are in.

India look very likely given their form and who they have left (WI, England & SL), England have to win at least one of either India or us and possibly even both of those, Pakistan would have to win all three of their matches (NZ, Afghanistan & Bangladesh) to qualify while New Zealand we need just one more win to make it absolutely certain.

The easiest equation for the Black Caps is to win tonight at Edgbaston. Lose against Pakistan and we'd then be looking at having to beat either Ozzie or England – 2two teams with bowling attacks better than anything we've faced thus far.

The way this tournie has panned out, since the rained out result vs India, we seem to have faced a succession of opponents each slightly better than the last. Easing past South Africa, riding our luck against the Windies, now playing Pakistan before finishing with Ozzie and England.

Now, I don't know about you but the last thing I want is to go into that final round robin vs England riding all the pressure of a winner take all (virtual) quarter final.

Watching Australia/England last night I think both of those sides look better than us. The way we've played we absolutely deserve to be where we currently are.

But with nothing guaranteed and the potential of complete disaster still possible it's imperative we take care of business tonight and confirm our final four spot making those last two matches worth academic interest only.

Make no mistake, tonight is a must win. The equation cannot be any simpler - win and we're definitely in.


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