Herald cricket writers David Leggat and Andrew Alderson answer three key questions following the Black Caps' semifinal defeat to England at the World T20.
1) Is it a concern that New Zealand get so close but can't win a tournament or a testament that they are always in with a chance?
David Leggat: The latter. New Zealand are often labelled perennial semifinalists, but a team who don't make the big dance. That ended a year ago in Melbourne and let's face it, you'd rather be running around at the sharp end of a world event than packing up early, like Australia, Pakistan, South Africa and Sri Lanka on this occasion. Any suggestion that they bottled it today does England a disservice. A good, confident New Zealand team were beaten by an England side who happened to have the most effective batsman on the park and canny bowlers.
Andrew Alderson: Naturally, the inability to seize crucial tournament opportunities must irk, but at least they're close. It would take a harsh, and perhaps prejudiced, critic to argue they are disappointing overall. This team is delivering rare levels of consistency in New Zealand cricket circles. Their last two white-ball tournaments (the World Cup and World T20) are examples; they were peerless staying unbeaten in pool play.
England must also take kudos. They sought to emulate New Zealand's fearless strategy post-World Cup, and the apprentice is now regularly bettering the master. England has morphed into a side with swagger and chutzpah. Despite their opening hiccup against the West Indies, they look capable of replicating their 2010 tournament victory. One of New Zealand's recent methodologies has been 'find a way to win', regardless of circumstance. England usurped that mindset in Delhi.
2) What was more costly for the Black Caps - the end of their batting innings or the start of their bowling innings?
David Leggat: The end of the batting, without question. From 89 for one after 10 overs, New Zealand must have been eyeing 180, minimum. New Zealand's early overs weren't flash, true, but with an extra 25-30 runs in the bank it must have helped the self belief. That said, England's bowlers did a quality job, Chris Jordan in particular was outstanding, with 140kmph-plus yorkers. You had the feeling, on a pacier pitch than most they'd played on earlier in the tournament, that New Zealand's bowlers had to do everything right if an aggressive England top order got going. Respectively, they didn't, and they did.
Andrew Alderson: Bowlers need a suitable target to defend so they can deliver with confidence and know the result won't hinge on them conceding the odd boundary. New Zealand's bowlers, especially spinners Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi, redeemed them from several tournament tight spots caused by the lack of middle order runs. Defending 153-8 was asking too much, especially given they built a platform of 89 for one after 10 overs and were still 107 for three when Colin Munro exited in the 14th over. They lost five wickets for 20 in the final four overs, which is almost a maiden over of resources for starters.
What would be the best final for the neutral fan?
David Leggat: India v England. Think of the colour and spectacle of the occasion. England v West Indies would be entertaining, and probably much closer than their pool game, when Chris Gayle's 48-ball century decided the game with 11 balls to spare. But when the home team is in a final, there's just an extra buzz about the contest.
Andrew Alderson: India versus England holds the most interest. Frame it how you want: Joe Root versus Virat Kohli, the Raj versus the Republic, the originators of Twenty20 versus its most successful imitators. Both bowling attacks can leave you wanting more but, in the cacophony of a cricketing cauldron like Kolkata's Eden Gardens, there is no reason this shouldn't present a hitting frenzy if that's where your cricketing preferences lie.
The flipside is a desire for the West Indies to defend the honour of smaller countries. They're the 2012 winners, but if any part of the cricketing world continues to require injections of hope, the Caribbean is the obvious contender.