David Leggat: Kiwis talked talk but ended up taking a walk

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New Zealand were talking a good game ahead of the world Twenty20 championship.

But when the heat went on, they were simply not good enough.

Forget a couple of bullying wins over Scotland and Ireland. Against Pakistan and Sri Lanka they were done like a pot roast.

Injuries didn't help but there can be no complaints at being dumped out before the semifinals. They deserved no more. Instead the players and management should be reflecting on what went wrong.

Broadly speaking, that won't take long; the bowling was generally tidy, the fielding pretty sharp, which leaves only ...

Chasing 129 to beat South Africa, New Zealand fell two runs short, with five wickets standing.

So it didn't matter because both were already through to the Super Eight?

Nonsense. Try telling the South Africans that. Plenty of good could have come from beating the tournament favourites.

Pakistan's bowlers chomped through weak batting at the Oval, dismissing New Zealand for 99, the last six wickets going for 26. That put New Zealand with Scotland and the Netherlands as the only teams to be skittled for under 100 during the tournament.

Worse followed yesterday as the final seven wickets tumbled for 17 in 31 balls. A pattern was being followed.

So it's only Twenty20 and therefore no sleep should be lost? You can make a solid argument on that if you're discussing the Indian Premier League, where the primary aim is making money. It's different in a country versus country world championship.

And certainly it mattered if you judged it by the crestfallen, head-in-hands figure of Martin Guptill after his dismissal yesterday.

If he felt he'd lost the game for New Zealand he needn't have. Others were far more culpable. His 43 off 34 balls was by a distance his team's best innings yesterday.

Some of those plonked on the plastic bus shelter alongside him on the boundary yesterday should take the forthcoming holiday break to do a spot of hard self-analysis.

In big games - and having been tonked by Pakistan, the Sri Lankan game was just that - teams look to the senior figures to lead the way.

Ross Taylor's ugly swipe at the third ball he'd faced from Sri Lanka's latest spin marvel Ajantha Mendis was followed three balls later by Scott Styris missing a straight one which knocked his off stump over.

New Zealand hadn't come across Mendis before. He took three for nine and clearly bemused them. New Zealand's next tour is to Sri Lanka in August. They'll get plenty of chances to figure him out.

When Jacob Oram then missed with an airy waft at a slower ball, that was it. Against Pakistan and Sri Lanka, Oram contributed 12 runs off 23 balls.

New Zealand have one player in the top 20 runmakers at the tournament - McCullum sneaks in at No 20 with 107.

Ian Butler, with six wickets, is the sole New Zealander in the top 20 wicket-takers, at 16th. The numbers aren't flattering.

New Zealand lost to three of the four semifinalists. Each of those three sides played with skill, determination and mental hardness. When they really needed those qualities, New Zealand didn't have them.

- NZ Herald

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