Cricket: Smarts have guided Black Caps to T20 semis - Vaughan

Kane Williamson's captaincy drew particular praise from Michael Vaughan. Photo / Getty
Kane Williamson's captaincy drew particular praise from Michael Vaughan. Photo / Getty

Former England captain Michael Vaughan says New Zealand have been the "smartest team in the tournament" on the eve of tomorrow morning's World T20 semifinal showdown.

Vaughan was full of praise for the way the Black Caps have played in India on their way to topping their group on the back of four wins from four starts. They are due to meet England at 2.30am tomorrow morning for a place in the final against either India or the West Indies.

"[New Zealand] have played at four venues, travelled thousands of miles and adapted quickly," Vaughan wrote in his UK Telegraph column. "England have been lucky in the sense they have played at just two venues and conditions have suited them. They have even got away with failing to read the conditions properly in their first matches at Mumbai and Delhi.

"New Zealand have not been afraid to make changes to the team to suit the pitch. I expect [tonight] they will leave out Nathan McCullum and bring in the extra seamer, Adam Milne.

"New Zealand have lost just one of their last 13 games in World Cups (and that was the final in Melbourne last year) which suggests they are a high-quality team. The highest total they have conceded is 158 against Pakistan and they have bowled out two teams for under 100.

"They have had the best operation in the field. Tactically, they have been excellent and they have become a smarter team under Kane Williamson. Under Brendon McCullum, they were bold, fearless and great to watch. Williamson has taken all that aggression but also been a little smarter as well. That is dangerous for England.

"Mitchell Santner has been the best left-armer in the tournament but England will not mind his flight on a ground such as Delhi because anyone who has tossed it up there has flown into the stands. Ish Sodhi, the leg-spinner, will fire it in more and that is something England's spinners have to learn.

"I would like to see England challenge New Zealand to do something different. They have batted first in each game and defended a target. If Morgan wins the toss, he should bat first, put a score on the board and see how New Zealand react under the pressure of chasing a target in a semifinal."

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