July 12, 2019 / 4:24 PM / 4 days ago

Cricket-New Zealanders feeling the long-distance love says Stead

LONDON, July 12 (Reuters) - New Zealand coach Gary Stead says his team are tapping into the support they are getting from home as TV-watching fans prepare to burn the midnight oil to watch them take on England in Sunday’s Cricket World Cup final.

The match is due to start at 0930 GMT - 2130 in New Zealand - as the nation’s cricket team attempts to emulate the All Blacks rugby side by being crowned world champions for the first time.

“We’ve had a lot of supportive messages and we’re really excited about what’s ahead,” Stead told reporters at Lord’s on Friday. “My understanding is it’s on free-to-air back home, which is awesome.

“Many people will stay up late and I know a lot of them will be spending some late hours. Monday might be a holiday back home because most of New Zealand will be staying up watching the game.”

England’s eight-wicket thrashing of Australia in the semi-finals, a mauling of New Zealand in the group stages and home advantage are all factors that make the hosts heavy favourites.

But Stead backed the Kiwis to tap into their ability to scrap for a result in order to spoil England’s party. “When you strip it back, it’s just another game of cricket,” he said.

“We’re excited about the opportunity ahead of us and we start the game with a 50-50 chance, we just need to be that bit better than England. We know the force they’ve become and that’s why they start the game as favourites.

“You can do all the scenario training you want but you can’t replicate what goes on in a big moment like this. There is pressure on both teams because neither have won a World Cup. It’s about how you handle it.” (Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Mitch Phillips)

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