T20 World Cup: James Neesham plays down hype over New Zealand vs Afghanistan virtual quarter-final

Written by Sumit Seth

New Zealand all-rounder James Neesham played down the hype over their crucial Super 12 clash against Afghanistan, which is being billed as the “virtual quarter-final” of T20 World Cup 2021, adding the Black Caps will focus on the job in hand and not worry about the outside noise.

New Zealand, who have won 3 matches out of 4 in Group 2 of Super 12, have a simple equation. If they beat Afghanistan on Sunday in Abu Dhabi, they are through to the semi-final along with Pakistan from the same group. However, if they lose to Afghanistan, Mohammad Nabi’s men will fancy their chances to reach the semi-final.

All eyes will then be on India’s final Super 12 game against Namibia on Monday. If India manage to earn a big win and go past Afghanistan’s Net Run Rate, It will be India and Pakistan progressing to the final four of T20 World Cup 2021.

India kept themselves alive in the race to the semi-final, hammering Scotland by 8 wickets after chasing down an 86-run target in just 6.3 overs on Friday in Dubai.

Speaking after New Zealand’s big win over Namibia on Saturday, James Neesham said New Zealand are clear with their plans and do not worry about the hype surrounding their game against Afghanistan.

“Honestly, there has been a lot of talk about that from the outside but for us, even before the very first tournament, we knew that we had to knock over one of India and Pakistan and win the rest of the games and get through. It was a very simple equation,” Neesham said.

“We are focussing on each game as it comes. Zero disrespect to Namibia and Scotland in T20 rankings point of view. We knew all teams had enough quality to knock anyone out on their way.

“For us, it’s just about going and taking care of our game. I am sure, if at the start of the tournament, we were offered a virtual quarter-final against Afghanistan in the last game, we would have taken that. So we will prepare for the next game just as we have been preparing for every other game,” Neesham added.

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Sumit Seth