Kane Williamson takes a leg break from Rashid Khan at first slip straight into Gulbuddin Naib’s lap and throws his head back in frustration.

Williamson’s out-of-jail shot is a dud against both spin and pace, but with the slip in place and the ball turning and holding in the Providence pitch, there was no way out for him and New Zealand.

“He’ll know there was a slip,” Ian Smith summed up the dismissal on TV commentary. “It’s another sign of a team that hasn’t played cricket.”

Chasing 160, New Zealand slumped to 33 for 4 in the seventh over. Rahmanullah Garbaz scored 80 runs off 56 balls.

New Zealand batted, bowled and fielded like a side that had little match practice. Their full-strength T20I team last played together at the end of their home summer against Australia in February. While the second-ranked team toured Pakistan for a five-match T20I series in April, some of New Zealand’s key players, including skipper Williamson and finisher Glenn Phillips, spent most of the IPL on the bench. Salami batsmen Dion Conway and Finn Allen were participating in the T20 World Cup after recovering from injuries. Neither IPL nor Pakistan were involved in the series.

The cobbler’s nets had collected so much dust that it was impossible for the New Zealanders to clear them in three hours. Allan, who was patrolling the long-leg side boundary, lost the ball under lights and dropped Ibrahim Zadran for 13 in the fifth over. In the next over, Conway failed to collect a correct throw and squandered a run-out opportunity. Garbaz was on 19 runs at that time. The opening pair punished New Zealand’s laziness in the field and pressed on to score 103 runs in 14.3 overs. There were many other fielding flaws in the non-New Zealand performance, with all players, including Williamson, making headlines.

“Our fielding definitely didn’t help our cause,” Williamson said after the game. “That would be the most frustrating part for me.” It’s something we pride ourselves on, so it was very disappointing but our marriage with a great performance from Afghanistan meant it wasn’t good enough and they did. Skill today and we fell behind.”

New Zealand’s batting was equally shaky, with the ball swinging more in the night lights than in the evening. After left-arm fast bowler Fazlul Haq Farooqui destroyed the top order, Rashid and co. Providence used the low bounce and skid offered by the pitch to their advantage. And of course, the venue always has a twist. Rashid is familiar with all this, having played for the Guyana Amazon Warriors in the CPL in 2017. Garbaz is also used to these conditions, having recently turned out for Amazon Warriors in 2022.

Dismissing these two warm-up games, to me, is mental bowling and should be scrutinized.

Mitchell McClenaghan

Especially in hindsight, it feels like New Zealand would have fared better had they played in the warm-up games. Sure, their players arrived in batches of three and there were logistical challenges to deal with, but could they have squeezed in a few warm-up fixtures like Australia did in the lead-up to the T20 World Cup?

Former New Zealand fast bowler and current ESPNcricinfo pundit Mitchell McClenaghan was surprised by New Zealand’s decision to opt out of playing warm-up matches.

“To rule out some of the warm-up games… you’ve got a lot of players who haven’t played in the IPL and they’re sitting on the bench,” McClenaghan said on the Time Out show. “Conway looked incredibly out of touch. Finn Allen, in his case, didn’t go to Pakistan with a back injury. All these guys haven’t played in the last month or so and then in the Caribbean.” So, dismissing these two warm-up games, to me, is mental bowling and should be scrutinized.”

Former New Zealand coach Mike Hessen, who coached Islamabad United to the PSL title earlier this year, also criticized New Zealand’s fielding and their decision to go cold without playing warm-ups.

“We looked really weak,” Hesson said. Sky Sport NZ. “We actually looked disinterested at times when things didn’t really start going our way. The body language fell into the fray, which certainly wouldn’t have pleased Kane Williamson at all. From there, they Gave Afghanistan a bit of momentum. No. Caps side… Unfortunately, the performance they gave was no surprise.”

Given the draw – New Zealand were the last of the 20 teams to start the T20 World Cup – they were always meant to play catch-up. An 84-run defeat in their opener has now left them on the verge of being knocked out in a clear group of death, with Afghanistan and the West Indies having two wins each. Afghanistan’s net run rate of 5.225 means they already have a place in the Super Eight, with New Zealand facing the West Indies, who also have a healthy run rate (3.574), in Trinidad on June 12. Must win. West Indies is home to many T20 superstars.

In their latest T20I match at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy, West Indies beat England 3-2 to win the series, with left-arm spinners Akil Hossain and Gadkesh Moti taking five wickets for just 44 runs in their eight overs. got Slow Track last December. New Zealand realized they had it. no Margin of error from here.

Upon the arrival of the squad, New Zealand batting coach Luke Ronchi said “Well, they (West Indies) are a fantastic T20 team. They are a strong team that can change the game very quickly and obviously that is their There are also domestic situations.” Saturday in Trinidad “They have a lot of Trinidadians playing in their team, so they know the conditions and the ground at Brian Lara Stadium. It’s about making sure we do what we do. That’s the thing. We lost in the first game.”

Even if New Zealand hit the ground running against the West Indies, they could be out early given their poor net run rate (minus 4.2), unless they lose to co-hosts Afghanistan.

A rusty, un-New Zealand performance has exposed the entire World Cup campaign.

Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo.

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