Sidharth Monga at Chester-le-Street

England have managed to - in some style - ride over the surprise thrown at them by testing batting conditions in the World Cup but, arguably, the biggest blow these conditions have struck is on New Zealand's pre-tournament plans.

They came to the World Cup with openers suited for pitches conducive to chasing 350, and now they are left with three batsmen out of form and down on confidence. Between them, the New Zealand openers have scored 299 runs in 16 innings, 131 of those scored in one chase of 137. They have four golden ducks between them. The median opening partnership has been 12. Kane Williamson has come out to bat in the first over on three occasions and once each in the second, third, sixth and ninth overs. Now we can't even lament Williamson doesn't get the same opportunity as the other three great batsmen of this era.

WATCH on Hotstar (India only) - New Zealand's fall of wickets

Not that Williamson should be shocked. They came to the World Cup with an extremely high-risk plan. They brought out two openers - Martin Guptill and Colin Munro - who can be explosive but rely unduly on conditions to suit them. Their back-up was a middle-order batsman, Henry Nicholls, who had only recently been converted into an opener presumably as a mild rebuke to Munro. Between the time he debuted for New Zealand and this World Cup, Nicholls had opened only six times in all List A cricket.

Williamson admitted conditions have been a spanner in their works. It is Williamson's and Ross Taylor's job to do the scrapping, but because they have found themselves on slower pitches Guptill and the other opener - whoever it is - have also had to do the same.

Jofra Archer celebrates as Martin Guptill is caught behind Getty Images
And at the business end of the tournament, Nicholls was opening with Guptill. This experiment, ironically enough, was only made possible thanks to the net run-rate cushion from that thumping win set up by the openers against Sri Lanka. And it was a great chance for the makeshift pair to get some feel back into their batting. There was nothing riding on this game for New Zealand. Their out-of-form players could have taken the time to play themselves in.

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Guptill will be extremely disappointed he nicked one down the leg side, as will be Nicholls for not reviewing the lbw call against him when the ball was sailing over the stumps. A more confident batsman would have felt comfortable making such calls.

On the evidence of what has happened, New Zealand have tried a couple of things to work around the situation. At the start they seemed to wait for Munro - who has never scored an ODI century - to come off playing his natural game. Then they seemed to ask him to play a more percentage game. Coach Gary Stead said as much, after their defeat to Pakistan in Birmingham, that they were not looking for the funky starts. Eventually with two games to go to the semi-final, they went to Nicholls.

The other option is Tom Latham. But that will cause too much disruption. For starters, he has spent the last couple of years playing in the middle order. Also, he is a naturalised wicketkeeper, which means batting at No. 5 gives him time to recover. The good news is, Latham has found some runs in Durham after having had a horror World Cup himself.

Chris Woakes got rid of Henry Nicholls for a duck Getty Images
World Cups are the worst time to get into a rut as a batsman. Every match is played in new conditions and against a new opposition. "Batting has a number of different challenges, and adapting to conditions is one," Williamson said. "And, I guess, often when you haven't spent time in the middle you are looking to feel good and I think on a lot of these surfaces, that's been something that's been very difficult to do, even when you have had time in the middle.

"So removing a lot of those thoughts and perhaps bringing that mindset back to 'what can I do for the team' rather than 'how can I feel good' or 'how can perhaps I do this or that, it is 'what can I maybe do to compliment the side and put them in a position of strength'. And that is something that is really important within our environment.

"And we know the guys are certainly working really hard to do that. But it has been very challenging and I think we've all seen it, so it is important that when we hopefully go on to perhaps get another opportunity as a side that we go out and take that match on, play with freedom, which is very important for us to play our best cricket, but also play cricket smart because we don't know what the surface has in store for us."

The hope for New Zealand is to get better batting conditions for the knockout games. Who's to say Old Trafford, which is what they now get after losing and finishing fourth, might even be their preferred venue for the semi-final, even if it is hard to imagine teams going into a match with those thoughts. Still, it is a challenge to play with freedom considering the kind of tournament the New Zealand openers have had.

Playing a World Cup semi-final, knowing that it is a matter of two great days, is an exciting time, but Williamson will not grudge any of them if it is their openers who end up having that great day.