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New Zealand wary of ICC World Cup 2023 dreams being washed away

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New Zealand captain Kane Williamson insisted his team will “focus on cricket” when they face a potentially make-or-break clash with Sri Lanka, shrugging off fears that rain may return to wash away their ICC World Cup 2023 dreams.

Williamson’s team lost a rain-hit match at the same Bengaluru venue last weekend against Pakistan despite posting a mammoth 401.

Pakistan won by 21 runs via the DLS method after scoring 200-1 in 25.3 overs, edging ahead on the required run rate when the game was halted due to the weather.

The defeat was a fourth successive loss for the Kiwis in the ICC World Cup 2023 who had won their opening four games.

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New Zealand, runners-up in the last two editions of the World Cup, are fourth in the table and need a win on Thursday to push their bid to secure a semi-final spot.

A washout could open the door for either Pakistan or Afghanistan to leapfrog them and grab the remaining last-four place.

“There’s lots of things that we can’t control and the weather is one of those,” Williamson told reporters on the eve of the game against 1996 champions Sri Lanka.

“You mentioned that there might be some of it, there may be a thought in the back of your mind, but at the end of the day, our focus will be on the cricket that we want to play and trying to put all our focus and energy into that.”

Afghanistan and Pakistan have the same number of points as New Zealand while India, South Africa and Australia have already sealed semi-final places.

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Williamson returned in the previous match after recovering from a broken thumb to make a valiant 95 in a 180-run stand with Rachin Ravindra, who hit 108.

Lockie Ferguson, who has claimed eight wickets in five matches, missed the previous two games with an Achilles injury has now recovered to be available for selection.

Kane Williamson said Ferguson “balances out our attack nicely” but did not reveal the team for the all-important match.

Fast bowler Matt Henry was ruled out of the rest of the ICC World Cup 2023 last week with a torn hamstring and Kyle Jamieson has taken his place in the squad.

Ravindra has stood out with 523 runs including three centuries to boost his team’s run-making ability despite recent losses.

Ravindra, a Wellington-born Kiwi of Indian-origin, played a key role in the team’s opening four victories and Williamson lauded the run-machine for his “amazing talent”.

“We sort of knew the talent was there, but to come out and repeat and be one of the players of the tournament so far, not only with the bat, but he’s also making really valuable contributions with the ball,” said Williamson.

“Very special player and great that he’s on our side.”

READ: Stokes’ hundred lifts England to 339 against Netherlands

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