New Zealand all-rounder Jimmy Neesham played down the hype on his side’s last Super 12s clash against Afghanistan in Abu Dhabi on Sunday - a virtual-quarter final match-up given the Group 2 standings. India too, stand an outside chance, if only Afghanistan defeat Kane Williamson’s men.
New Zealand’s dominant 52-run win over Namibia in Sharjah on Friday has now put them one win away from semi-final qualification in the T20 World Cup 2021. They will be up against Afghanistan in their last Super 12s fixture Abu Dhabi on Sunday.
A defeat would rule the Blackcaps out of the competition, given their inferior net run-rate (NRR) of +1.277 as compared to Afghanistan (+1.481) and India (+1.619). If Afghanistan wins, the second semi-final spot from Group 2 would depend on the outcome of the India-Namibia clash on Monday.
Jimmy Neesham, who smashed a quickfire 35* and returned 1/6 from his lone over against the Gerhard Erasmus-led team, played down the hype on the crucial encounter.
"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."