New Zealand looked rusty and disorganised: Ian smith

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Providence (Guyana), Jun 10 (PTI) Former New Zealand cricketer Ian Smith has questioned the readiness of his country's team in the T20 World Cup, saying it looked rusty and completely disorganised in the humiliating defeat against Afghanistan.

New Zealand suffered an embarrassing 84-run loss to Afghanistan in their tournament opener here on Friday. They were dismissed for 75 in their chase of 159, with Rashid Khan and Fazalhaq Farooqi grabbing four wickets each.

The Kiwis are placed fifth and last in Group C and will next play the West Indies in Trinidad on Wednesday with the negative net run rate making their task of qualifying for the knockouts an uphill task.

"They've got to beat the West Indies, and hope that they (West Indies) get beaten by Afghanistan, because New Zealand's run rate situation is so poor - we're going to be very behind the eight ball when it comes to that," Smith, who has played 63 Tests and 98 ODIs, told Sen Radio on Monday.

"I just don't know they're going to get up to speed from the flat performance they had the other day (against Afghanistan). What kind of team are they going to pick? Are they going to make any changes? The people they bring in haven't played any cricket either," he added.

New Zealand had made it to the semifinals of the 2022 T20 World Cup after topping the group stage, riding on fine performances from Devon Conway, Kane Williamson and Daryl Mitchell, among others.

But with Conway returning to the side after a long injury layoff and Finn Allen not quite hitting his straps, things are not looking great for the Kiwis, known for their work ethics and competitive spirit.

Besides, they have entered the World Cup having not played a single official warmup match.

"He (Conway) looked decidedly rusty, in fact very average, he looked down on practice with the gloves on. And he's been out of form with the bat for a little while," Smith said of the top-order batter who missed the entire IPL 2024 due to injury.

"Apart from the fact that he's had injures, Conway played no cricket in the IPL even though he was contracted, and still they maintained they didn't need to have anything like a specialist wicketkeeper in this tournament." With Finn Allen going for a first-ball duck and Conway mustering just eight runs, the Kiwis didn't get the desired start in the chase against Afghanistan.

"They missed opportunities to put pressure on Afghanistan early on, one partnership was all they needed to win the game. It was probably one of the worst performances I've seen, when you consider all aspects of the game, from a Blackcaps side that I can recall," Smith said.

"It was underdone, it was rusty, it was disorganised -- they were so far not ready it was not funny." "Finn Allen has got a bit to prove, I've been saying this for a while -- they basically ended the career for Martin Guptill to make way for Allen. They couldn't pick him in the 50-over World Cup because he wasn't consistent enough at that point, and I don't see much difference between then and now," Smith added.

Smith also lamented the poor Kiwi fielding, saying it was quite unlike the side that puts its heart and soul into every aspect of the game.

"One thing New Zealand has always done over the years is field well as a unit. We've been able to answer (to that) pressure with some really good fielding performances, we aren't doing it at the moment.

"Here again, we start with a poor performance, and I kept going back to Kane Williamson (in the post-match interview) and he said 'we lost it in the first ten overs' because that set the tone," Smith said.

"The only way you get those things sorted is to play cricket." PTI AM AM AH AH