New Zealand captain Kane Williamson hopes an upcoming break provides his side with a chance to revive their faltering World Cup campaign. The Black Caps suffered their third straight defeat of the tournament in a thumping 119-run loss to England at Chester-le-Street on Wednesday.
Had they won, it would have been New Zealand and not England who were assured of a place in the semi-finals. But they were rarely in the hunt and New Zealand, who won five of their first six games in a sequence that included a washout with India, had to accept another defeat following losses to Pakistan and Australia -- the team that beat them in 2015 final.
The consolation for Williamson's men is they are all but certain of a place in the semi-finals given their huge net run-rate advantage over Pakistan. And Williamson, whose team won't play again until next week if they make the last four, believes group form will count for little now that the tournament is heading into the knockout phase. "If we are fortunate to be in a semi-final, then we do have a little bit of a break," he said. "If you are in a knockout stage where it's a semi-final opportunity, anything can happen.
"We know that we haven't put out our best performance yet and we know when we do it gives us the best chance of beating anybody, without a doubt. "It is important for us to perhaps have a couple of days away. We sort of have a bit of a break now." New Zealand's chase against England saw them lose their top four inside 17 overs with just 69 runs on the scoreboard. From then on it appeared the Black Caps were involved in damage limitation, even though they were still bowled out for 186 with five overs to spare.
But Williamson was adamant his side had not been trying to manipulate the run-rate. "We were trying to win the game, but we didn't do a very good job of it," he said. "We just needed a couple of big partnerships, certainly from the top order and it wasn't there." New Zealand was hampered before the start when leading fast bowler Lockie Ferguson, who has taken 17 wickets in seven games this tournament, was ruled out because of tightness in his hamstring.
But the 28-year-old should be fit in time for Tuesday's semi-final at Old Trafford. "He's been outstanding throughout this whole tournament and a real point of difference for us," said Williamson. "Did we miss him? Yes. But we'd miss him more if we didn't have him, hopefully, in another game's time. "He should be fine. It's a fairly minor injury, sort of a light hamstring thing, and he should be okay."
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