Pakistan's batsman Babar Azam
Pakistan's batsman Babar Azam shakes hand with New Zealand's captain Kane Williamson, at the end of the match at the Edgbaston Stadium in Birmingham. Image Credit: AP

Manchester: New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson hailed the Pakistan side that ended their winning run in this World Cup at Edgbaston on Wednesday. “We were outplayed on a tough surface by a great Pakistan side today,” he said after the match.

Williamson and Jimmy Neesham did not seem particularly affected by the defeat since they believe it is practically impossible for any team to go undefeated in this tournament.

“We aren’t expecting to win all in a format like a round-robin because there are simply too many games,” said Williamson. “But there were glimpses of some great cricket today. We need to adapt a little better than what we did today at a different venue against a different opposition up next.”

Neesham was even more candid. “I think you’d be pretty naive to expect to go through the whole tournament unbeaten,” he said. “I think there are too many quality teams around to expect to win every game. We prepared for a tournament where we’d probably lose one or two games, but for us it’s all about making it to the semi-finals first, and then you’re only two good games away from lifting the trophy.”

According to Neesham, the turning point of the match was when his team’s batting slipped. “I think probably being 46-4 was a pretty significant moment in the game,” he added. “Any time you get the new ball moving, it can be tough. Pakistan’s bowling is obviously really impressive. To sort of try and dig ourselves out of that hole took a lot of doing, but I think we potentially got to a score that was defendable. The way Babar Azam and Haris Sohail batted didn’t allow us to get some momentum and try to get into their middle order.”

But the Kiwis have already shifted focus to the next match against Australia on Saturday at Lord’s. “So for us nothing changes. We’ll prepare for the next game the same way we’ve prepared for the last six. We’re basically in a situation now where it’s one win from two, and we’ll be in the semi-finals. But our goal obviously is to win the tournament.”

Neesham’s statements clearly indicated that the defeat had in no way affected their morale. “The mood in the dressing room is good,” he said. “The guys were joking and laughing when I left. We’re not the type of team that takes losses really hard. I think we’ll have a couple of drinks tonight as a team and kind of talk about how that game went, and then we’ll pretty much park it there. Then we’ll hit our scouting tomorrow morning fresher.”

Talking about their next opponent Australia, a confident Neesham said: “We’ve played Australia a lot of over the last two or three years. So we know how they go about the game. They’re obviously a really good team. But we certainly wouldn’t prepare for them any differently than we would for any other game.”