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New Zealand Black Caps fans look to Twenty20 World Cup with hope, trepidation

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New Zealand Black Caps fans look to Twenty20 World Cup with hope, trepidation
News

News

New Zealand Black Caps fans look to Twenty20 World Cup with hope, trepidation

2024-05-21 15:13 Last Updated At:21:48

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Black Caps fans are bracing themselves for an emotional journey when the Twenty20 World Cup begins next month in the United States and West Indies, looking forward to the tournament with a mixture of hope and fatalism.

That mixed outlook, leaning towards pessimism, is based on New Zealand’s experience of cricket's limited-overs World Cups, many of which have taken fans on an emotional roller-coaster before ending in disappointment.

New Zealand reached the final of the 2021 T20 World Cup, losing to Australia in the United Arab Emirates, and the semifinals of the 2016 and 2022 tournaments. The Black Caps reached the final of the 50-overs Cricket World Cup in 2015 and 2019 and the semifinals in 2007, 2011 and 2023.

In total the Black Caps have reached the ICC World Cup semifinals seven times. But New Zealand’s only win in a major limited-overs tournament came at the ICC Knockout Trophy in Kenya in 2000.

Narrow misses over the years have sowed the seeds of pessimism among New Zealand fans. But New Zealand’s competitiveness in world tournaments, including its win in the inaugural World Test Championship, also have nourished hope.

New Zealand has had the ability to assemble rounded squads with depth in all disciplines which is the prerequisite for tournament success.

“When you go to World Cups, you want experience and you want people who know what it’s like,” Black Caps head coach Gary Stead said.

New Zealand has that experience. Its squad will be led by Kane Williamson in his sixth T20 World Cup and fourth as captain. Tim Southee will lead the seam attack in his seventh Twenty20 World Cup, supported by Trent Boult in his fifth.

New Zealand has depth and variety in its spin and seam attacks. The batting lineup also is experienced and deep, featuring both power and grit.

“We’ve got bowlers who provide us with a really varied lineup as well — left-armers, right-armers, spinners who go both ways,” Stead said. “That balance part is important.

“If we play well and play with smarts then hopefully it will be a tournament we can win.”

The one notable omission in the New Zealand squad is that of a specialist wicketkeeper. Stead has chosen not to take wicketkeeper and opening bat Tim Seifert but to delegate the keeping duties to Devon Conway and Finn Allen and, at a pinch, Rachin Ravindra or Glenn Phillips.

That pinch might come at some point as Conway goes into the tournament with a thumb injury and Allen with a recent back injury. Stead is confident both will be fit in time.

Other factors of importance in a world tournament are the conditions and schedule. New Zealand is well placed when it comes to the first; 13 of its squad played in its last tour to the West Indies and six played in the Caribbean Premier League.

It faces Afghanistan in its first match in Guyana and co-host the West Indies in its second, followed by Uganda and Papua New Guinea before the Super 8 stage.

“Afghanistan in Guyana on a wicket that traditionally turns will possibly be a match that will be crucial,” Stead said.

The Afghanistan match begins the journey for Kiwis watching at home mostly in the morning or early afternoon local time. The first step, to reach the Super 8, seems a relatively easy one. But it has been taking the final that has been so difficult in the past.

AP cricket: https://apnews.com/hub/cricket

Chennai Super Kings' Rachin Ravindra plays a shot during the Indian Premier League cricket match between Royal Challengers Bengaluru and Chennai Super Kings in Bengaluru, India, Saturday, May 18 , 2024. (AP Photo/Kashif Masood)

Chennai Super Kings' Rachin Ravindra plays a shot during the Indian Premier League cricket match between Royal Challengers Bengaluru and Chennai Super Kings in Bengaluru, India, Saturday, May 18 , 2024. (AP Photo/Kashif Masood)

Delhi Capitals' Jake Fraser-McGurk reacts after getting hurt on a delivery by Rajasthan Royals' Trent Boult during the Indian Premier League cricket match between Delhi Capitals and Rajasthan Royals in New Delhi, India, Tuesday, May 7, 2024. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Delhi Capitals' Jake Fraser-McGurk reacts after getting hurt on a delivery by Rajasthan Royals' Trent Boult during the Indian Premier League cricket match between Delhi Capitals and Rajasthan Royals in New Delhi, India, Tuesday, May 7, 2024. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — The viability of a U.S.-backed proposal to wind down the 8-month-long war in Gaza has been cast into doubt after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would only be willing to agree to a “partial” cease-fire deal that would not end the war, comments that sparked an uproar from families of hostages held by Hamas.

In an interview broadcast late Sunday on Israeli Channel 14, a conservative, pro-Netanyahu station, the Israeli leader said he was “prepared to make a partial deal — this is no secret — that will return to us some of the people,” referring to the roughly 120 hostages still held in the Gaza Strip. “But we are committed to continuing the war after a pause, in order to complete the goal of eliminating Hamas. I’m not willing to give up on that.”

Netanyahu’s comments did not deviate dramatically from what he has said previously about his terms for a deal. But they come at a sensitive time, as Israel and Hamas appear to be moving further apart over the latest cease-fire proposal, and they could represent another setback for mediators trying to end the war.

Netanyahu's comments stood in sharp contrast to the outlines of the deal detailed late last month by U.S. President Joe Biden, who framed the plan as an Israeli one and which some in Israel refer to as “Netanyahu’s deal.” His remarks could further strain Israel's ties to the U.S., its top ally, which launched a major diplomatic push for the latest cease-fire proposal.

The three-phased plan would bring about the release of the remaining hostages in exchange for hundreds of Palestinians imprisoned by Israel. But disputes and mistrust persist between Israel and Hamas over how the deal plays out.

Hamas has insisted it will not release the remaining hostages unless there’s a permanent cease-fire and a full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza. When Biden announced the latest proposal, he said it included both.

But Netanyahu says Israel is still committed to destroying Hamas’ military and governing capabilities, and ensuring it can never again carry out an Oct. 7-style assault. A full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza, where Hamas’ top leadership and much of its forces are still intact, would almost certainly leave the group in control of the territory and able to rearm.

In the interview, Netanyahu said the current phase of fighting is ending, setting the stage for Israel to send more troops to its northern border to confront the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, in what could open up a new war front. But he said that didn't mean the war in Gaza was over.

On Monday, Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant discussed tensions on the border with Lebanon during his trip to Washington with Amos Hochstein, a senior adviser to Biden. He echoed Netanyahu's comments that the war in Gaza is transitioning to a new phase, which could impact other conflicts, including with Hezbollah.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Gallant that it was critical to avoid escalating the conflict in the Middle East and find a resolution that “allows both Israeli and Lebanese families to return to their homes.”

Israel is close to dismantling the Hamas military brigades in the southern city of Rafah, and maintains "full control” over the Philadelphi Corridor, a strategic buffer zone along Gaza's border with Egypt, Israel’s military chief Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi said. Israel says the corridor is awash with tunnels that Hamas uses to smuggle weapons and other goods. Halevi said Israel's control over the buffer zone will bring an end to that.

During the initial six-week phase of the proposed cease-fire, the sides are supposed to negotiate an agreement on the second phase, which Biden said would include the release of all remaining living hostages including male soldiers and Israel’s full withdrawal from Gaza. The temporary cease-fire would become permanent.

Hamas appears concerned that Israel will resume the war once its most vulnerable hostages are returned. And even if it doesn’t, Israel could make demands in that stage of negotiations that were not part of the initial deal and are unacceptable to Hamas — and then resume the war when Hamas refuses them.

Netanyahu’s remarks reinforced that concern. After they were aired, Hamas said they represented “unmistakable confirmation of his rejection” of the U.S.-supported deal, which also received the backing of the United Nations’ Security Council.

In a statement late Sunday after Netanyahu’s lengthy TV interview, the Palestinian militant group said his position was “in contrast” to what the U.S. administration said Israel had approved. The group said its insistence that any deal should include a permanent cease-fire and the withdrawal of all Israeli forces from the Gaza Strip “was an inevitable necessity to block Netanyahu’s attempts of evasion, deception, and perpetuation of aggression and the war of extermination against our people.”

Netanyahu shot back and in a statement from his office said Hamas opposed a deal. He said Israel would not withdraw from Gaza until all 120 hostages are returned.

Hamas welcomed the broad outline of the U.S. plan but proposed what it said were “amendments.” During a visit to the region earlier this month, Blinken said some of Hamas' demands were “workable” and some were not, without elaborating.

Netanyahu and Hamas both have incentives to keep the devastating war going despite the catastrophic toll it has had on civilians in Gaza and the mounting anger in Israel that the hostages have not been returned and Hamas is not defeated.

The families of hostages have grown increasingly impatient with Netanyahu, seeing his apparent reluctance to move ahead on a deal as tainted by political considerations. A group representing the families condemned Netanyahu's remarks, which it viewed as an Israeli rejection of the latest cease-fire proposal.

“This is an abandonment of the 120 hostages and a violation of the state’s moral duty toward its citizens,” it said, noting that it held Netanyahu responsible for returning all the captives.

Earlier Sunday, Netanyahu repeated his claim that a “dramatic drop” in arms shipments from the U.S. was hindering the war effort. U.S. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said Monday that he doesn’t understand Netanyahu's comments and that Biden has delayed only one shipment of heavy bombs over concerns about heavy civilian casualties.

“There are other weapons that we continue to provide Israel as we have done going back years and years, because we are committed to Israel’s security," Miller told reporters in Washington. "There has been no change in that.”

In its Oct. 7 cross-border assault, Hamas-led militants killed 1,200 people and took 250 people captive, including women, children and older people. Dozens were freed in a temporary cease-fire deal in late November and of the 120 remaining hostages, Israel says about a third are dead.

Israel's retaliatory war has killed more than 37,000 Palestinians, according to the Health Ministry in the Hamas-ruled territory. It has sparked a humanitarian crisis and displaced most of the territory's 2.3 million population.

Magdy reported from Cairo. Associated Press reporter Matthew Lee contributed from Washington, D.C.

Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Gaza at https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war

Palestinians mourn their relatives killed in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip at a hospital morgue in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, Monday, June 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Jehad Alshrafi)

Palestinians mourn their relatives killed in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip at a hospital morgue in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, Monday, June 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Jehad Alshrafi)

Palestinians carry the body of a man killed in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip to a hospital morgue in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, Monday, June 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Jehad Alshrafi)

Palestinians carry the body of a man killed in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip to a hospital morgue in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, Monday, June 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Jehad Alshrafi)

Palestinians mourn their relatives killed in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip at a hospital morgue in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, Monday, June 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Jehad Alshrafi)

Palestinians mourn their relatives killed in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip at a hospital morgue in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, Monday, June 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Jehad Alshrafi)

People protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government and call for the release of hostages held in the Gaza Strip by the Hamas militant group, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, June 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

People protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government and call for the release of hostages held in the Gaza Strip by the Hamas militant group, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, June 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

People protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government and call for the release of hostages held in the Gaza Strip by the Hamas militant group, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, June 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

People protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government and call for the release of hostages held in the Gaza Strip by the Hamas militant group, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, June 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

People protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government and call for the release of hostages held in the Gaza Strip by the Hamas militant group, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, June 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

People protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government and call for the release of hostages held in the Gaza Strip by the Hamas militant group, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, June 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

People attend a protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government and demanding elections, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, June 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

People attend a protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government and demanding elections, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, June 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

People protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government and call for the release of hostages held in the Gaza Strip by the Hamas militant group, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, June 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

People protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government and call for the release of hostages held in the Gaza Strip by the Hamas militant group, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, June 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

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