ICC World T20 2016: Team New Zealand

New Zealand Cricket Team Preview

Captain: Kane Williamson

Previous Editions

2007 – Semifinals, lost to Pakistan

2009 – Exits in Super 8s, losing to Sri Lanka and Pakistan

2010 – Exits in Super 8s, losing to England and South Africa

2012 – Exits in Super 8s, losing all 3 matches

2014 – Crashes out in Group Stages 

New Zealand Cricket Team Preview

History

For the first time, the ICC World T20 Championship will be held in India. Perhaps this will have a bearing on New Zealand, a side that holds a decidedly poor record in this tournament history so far. Only once has it reached the semis, back in the first edition in South Africa, after which it has failed to make the last four even once. It has consistently lost to the Asian teams, which have always been the stronger, flashier sides in this format. 

This time, under Kane Williamson – a player who is more of the Amla mold in T20s (necessary, not crucial) – they will play across India, a country where they have rarely tasted success. Not many fancy its chances again, especially because its best ever T20 player, and one of its greatest leaders, Brendon McCullum, chose to retire only weeks before the tournament. But this Kiwi side has tasted great success in ODIs over the last few years, and has reinvented itself into an exciting, crowd-pleasing and spirited side that has captured imaginations across the globe – the peak of which it assumed at the 2015 ODI World Cup, on its unbeaten run to the final. 

Weaknesses

With McCullum gone, the marauding trendsetter at the top, Martin Guptill has taken over the role of destructor-in-chief. He has been in fine form over the last few months, but is nowhere near as intimidating or skillful as his ex-captain. They will need him to fire at the top in India, because Kane Williamson is the other opener, and he will only keep one end going. The middle order has only Corey Anderson in form, while the likes of Grant Elliot, Henry Nicholls and Luke Ronchi are yet to establish themselves over a period of time. Elliot is calm headed, but isn’t quite a T20 superstar, while Ross Taylor is making a comeback after missing two series due to injury. It won’t be easy for the rusty batsmen, because even the bowlers like Trent Boult, Tim Southee and Adam Milne are coming off an Australian season in which they haven’t been able to replicate their World Cup form. They went for runs and searched fruitlessly for wickets, and Indian pitches won’t be offering them much assistance either. Southee, especially, tends to taper off after a good match or two. The spinners Ish Sodhi and Nathan McCullum are relatively untested on these grounds too. Williamson himself is a newbie leader, and is now captaining his country in all the formats – a burden that, if it shows on his batting, will be taken away first in this format. 

Strengths

They somehow have always found a way in ICC tournaments when they’re complete underdogs. They have upset bigger teams like South Africa time and again – though this time they find themselves in the same group as hosts India, rivals Australia and hotheads Pakistan with Asian tormentors Bangladesh as the probable qualifiers. They’re the most “teamy” out of all teams, often combining to put pressure with their fielding and athleticism instead of relying on single-player performances. You can always count on Boult for a lethal spell out of nowhere, and guys like Munro and Taylor to finish like nobody’s business. 

X Factor

Luke Ronchi – the pint-sized keeper is destructive with the bat once he gets going, and if he has enough time on his hands. He has scored some quick runs in this format over the years, and will be looking to further his reputation as the most underrated keeper-batsman out there. 

Prediction

I doubt they will make it past their Group of Death. In fact, they are fifth favorites in a group of 5 (three Asian teams, which spells Doom for trans-tasman teams in the subcontinent). 

 

 

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