New Zealand’s decision to field first against an in-form South African batting side didn’t turn out to be a wise one in hindsight as it conceded 357 runs in the first innings and then crashed to a damaging 190-run defeat at the MCA Stadium in Pune on Wednesday.
New Zealand all-rounder Glenn Phillips though defended his side’s decision to chase against the Proteas.
“We chose to do what we thought was best on this pitch with the information that’s been given. Obviously, South Africa is incredibly strong batting first but we’ve got a good bowling lineup and there was no reason that we couldn’t have restricted them.
“Playing on at the end, I definitely thought it got better as well. So, I think had things gone slightly differently, we could definitely have come a lot closer than we did today,” said Phillips, who top-scored for his side.
After starting strongly, winning its first four games of the tournament, New Zealand looked a strong candidate for the semifinal. But three defeats on the trot have derailed its momentum going into the tail-end of the league stage.
“It’s [semifinal spot] just two wins away, and that hopefully puts us in third or fourth place, potentially even second. So, I think if we can just keep sticking to our basics, what we do best on the field, everything will be all right,” Phillips said.
New Zealand’s bowling effort against South Africa was not helped by an injury to Matt Henry, who could not complete his quota of 10 overs. The Kiwis were already without an injured Lockie Ferguson.
Phillips, however, downplayed the influence of injuries on his side’s three-game losing streak.
“Every team is combating injuries at the moment. But we’ll see what the scans show and we’ll go from there,” he said.
The 26-year-old also gave his two cents on the ongoing debate to expand the World Cup squad size, from the current 15.
“I think a squad of 15 is perfect. We’re close enough anywhere in the world to fly someone in at any stage if you really absolutely need to. You’ve got 15 players in a squad for a reason and if someone goes down you try and cover your bases.”
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