New Zealand at the World Cup: Almost there, but not quite!

New Zealand has been a competitive team, with a record of six semifinals and a final.

Led by master batsman Martin Crowe, New Zealand’s hopes were high after winning its first seven games in 1992. But Pakistan put paid to it in the semifinals.   -  The Hindu Photo Library

Tiny New Zealand always packs a punch. The gritty Black Caps have never won a World Cup but can never be written off as their proud history attests.

1975

From the first edition, New Zealand showed it relished the big stage. A Glenn Turner century powered the Kiwis past India and into the semis, where they were overmatched by eventual champion West Indies.

1979

Just like four years before, New Zealand reached the semi-finals. It appeared set for a shock win over host England but couldn’t muster the required 14 runs off the final over. It fell short of the 222 victory target by just nine runs.

1983

New Zealand was once again competitive but a three-wicket loss to Sri Lanka proved costly. In a virtual sudden death encounter with Pakistan, the Black Caps narrowly lost by 11 runs in pursuit of 262.

It meant New Zealand missed out on the semi-finals for the first time.

READ: 2011 World Cup final: 'Captain cool' Dhoni calls the shots

1987

This was a rare failed campaign for New Zealand, its only two victories coming against lowly Zimbabwe. In trademark fashion, the Black Caps were competitive but crucially lost three tight matches to Australia and India to trigger another early exit.

1992

With the tournament staged in the Trans-Tasman for the first time, New Zealand was a major contender. Led by master batsman Martin Crowe, New Zealand’s hopes were high after winning its first seven games.

Anticipation of a triumph was building in New Zealand but a seven-wicket defeat to Pakistan in its final group match was an ominous foreshadow. The teams met in the semis and a resurgent Pakistan broke the hearts of locals by chasing down 263 before going all the way.

1996

Brendon McCullum is bowled cheaply by Australia’s Mitchell Starc in the 2015 final. As co-host, New Zealand was one of the favourites, but Australia asserted its supremacy.   -  AFP

With the format changed, New Zealand qualified for the quarter-finals and a clash with arch-nemesis Australia. New Zealand looked set for an upset when Chris Harris destroyed Australia’s vaunted attack with a brilliant century to spearhead a formidable total of 286-9.

Mark Waugh, however, returned the favour with a peerless century as Australia chased down the massive target.

1999

New Zealand made an early statement with a comfortable five-wicket victory over Australia. In the Super Six stage, New Zealand qualified for the final four with a nerveless chase down of 252 over India. In a rematch of the 1992 semi-final, New Zealand met Pakistan but the Kiwis were unable to gain revenge in a lopsided contest.

2003

With Shane Bond firing, New Zealand loomed as an X-factor team. In the Super Six stage, the speedster was on fire with 6-23 against Australia but New Zealand’s batsmen imploded, mustering just 112 chasing a low target.

It was a body blow for New Zealand, which bowed out of the tournament after another batting meltdown against India.

2007

New Zealand was one of the fancied teams after an impressive clean sweep of Australia in a bilateral series before the tournament. Up to the semis, its only losses were to eventual finalist Australia and Sri Lanka.

Once again, however, New Zealand could not muster its best in the semis in a big loss to Sri Lanka.

READ: Bangladesh, a sporadic giant-killer in the World Cup

2011

Much like four years previously, New Zealand’s only blemishes were to Australia and Sri Lanka. It conjured a stirring quarter-final victory over South Africa through brilliant bowling from Jacob Oram and Nathan McCullum.

For the sixth time, New Zealand fell short in the semis. The Black Caps made a modest 217, which Sri Lanka chased down with five wickets in hand.

2015

As co-host, New Zealand was one of the favourites, buoyed by Brendon McCullum’s inventive captaincy and a potent attack led by Trent Boult and Tim Southee. A confident New Zealand swept through the group stage, highlighted by a thrilling one-wicket victory over Australia.

Its moment of truth arrived against South Africa in the semi-finals. This time, finally, the Black Caps prevailed in one of cricket’s most memorable finales but its game plan could not translate across the Tasman on the harder MCG wicket.

In front of a record cricket crowd, New Zealand was overpowered in the final by Australia but it won the hearts of many through its humility.