New Delhi, Mar 25: Impressed with the brand of cricket played by New Zealand in the World Cup, former India batsman Arun Lal believes the Black Caps are no longer the underdogs in the mega event.
The Brendan McCullum-led side crossed the semi-final hurdle for the first time in their seventh attempt as South Africa lost by four wickets via Duckworth-Lewis method in a close match in Auckland. Lal, like many, believes New Zealand played outstanding cricket.
"New Zealand played outstanding cricket in this edition of the World Cup. Full marks for McCullum for leading the team so well. They have done justice to their fans' passion and I believe they are no longer the underdogs in the tournament," Lal, who is on the Hindi commentary panel of Star Sports, told PTI.
South Africa, who did manage to win their first World Cup knockout after thrashing Sri Lanka in the quarter-finals, exited the last-four stage for the third time since 1992 and Lal said that the AB de Villiers side lived up to their chokers image.
"It must be difficult for the South African players to come to terms with this defeat. The team has performed exceptionally well throughout the tournament and I believe their death bowling further accentuated their 'chokers' tag.
"In the final overs, South Africa players were all over the place, they dropped catches, missed run outs and demonstrated some sloppy full length bowling which ended their journey in this World Cup," said the cricketer-turned-analyst.