| Stephen Fleming waves to fans during training in Pretoria on Friday. (Reuters)
Johannesburg: New Zealand’s decision not to play Kenya in their World Cup match in Nairobi on February 21 could cost them a semi-final place in the tournament.
New Zealand announced Friday they would not play Kenya in Nairobi because of security concerns and World Cup tournament director Ali Bacher confirmed they would forfeit their points if they did not play the game.
However under a new points scheme, New Zealand would not only miss out on the four points available for winning the match but also an extra point they would have carried through to the Super Six phase of the tournament if they qualified.
The new points system allows for a team that qualifies for the Super Six to take through a quarter of the points gained against teams that do not qualify.
Points achieved against other Super Six teams are also carried through into the second phase.
Assuming Kenya do not make the second round and New Zealand do, they could have taken an extra point through to the Super Sixes under the new system.
Bonus points have also been scrapped for the 54-game tournament that begins on February 9, ensuring teams make matches competitive until the end of a game, an official said.
“It is different to the last World Cup because there are now four points for a win (as opposed to two), two for a tie or no result and no bonus points,” said World Cup technical committee member Brian Basson.
Meanwhile, New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming accepts his side face a tougher task after forfeiting the match.
“It changes the landscape of the Cup quite a bit,” Fleming said in Centurion. “It all comes down to our first three games now.”
They play Sri Lanka on February 10, West Indies on February 13 and South Africa on February 16.
“The results in those games will dictate our progress in the tournament,” Fleming said.
But there were no regrets about making the decision not to go to Kenya, according to coach Jeff Crowe.
“We took the team interests to heart and the interests of the players are paramount,” Crowe said. “Last year in Karachi was too close for comfort.”
A terrorist bomb outside the team hotel during their tour to Pakistan, prompted the cancellation of the rest of the itinerary.
Meanwhile, New Zealand received a boost with the news that all rounder Chris Cairns is nearing full fitness after a knee injury.
“I’m nearly there and it’s been a real physical battle to get ready for the World Cup,” he said.
“It has been more frustrating than anything else, but there are 10 days to go to the first game and I’m getting closer to full fitness all the time.”