High-flying Kiwis face wounded Tigers

Kolkata, March 25

A buoyant New Zealand will look to maintain their perfect record in cricket’s World Twenty20 in Kolkata on Saturday as they take on a demoralised Bangladesh team who have already booked their tickets home.

The Black Caps are guaranteed a place in next week’s semi-finals after defeating India, Australia and Pakistan in their first three matches in the group stages. But Kane Williamson’s side, who are yet to win either of cricket’s premier short-form trophies, will want to keep their momentum going before they enter the tournament’s last four.

Williamson has so far relied on spin, with Trent Boult and Tim Southee -- New Zealand’s main strike bowlers in ODIs and Tests -- left to kick their heels on the bench. Martin Guptill, who top-scored with 80 in Tuesday’s win over Pakistan, said the Black Caps would not necessarily stick to the same line-up but would wait to see what the Eden Gardens pitch had in store. Guptill said New Zealand were enjoying their cricket and there was no reason why they couldn’t finish the group with a 100 percent record.

“We’ve got a mindset of being aggressive and just going out to have a bit of fun,” he said. “At the moment, everyone is having fun playing cricket, and we are playing some good cricket together, putting in some good performances. If we can do that again against Bangladesh, who knows, we can go through unbeaten.”

The match represents Bangladesh’s last chance at returning home with something after three straight defeats, including a heartbreaking last-ball loss to India on Wednesday night. After his team took India right to the wire, Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza now has to pick his team up off the floor. “It’s always difficult to take something from it (a close defeat) to another match,” he said after the India game. “But obviously being professional players we have to take it and play hard cricket in the last match. Obviously if we can do something there then we can take something back home.”