By Aakash Kumar
New Delhi, May 24 (IANS) If there’s one team which has remained consistent in the last four-five editions of the World Cup, it is New Zealand. Under Brendon McCullum, the Black Caps made it to the finals in the last edition of the showpiece event where they faced a heart-wrenching defeat against Australia.
And now four years later, the Kane Williamson-led side would be looking to make amends and aim for their first World Cup trophy when they begin their campaign against Sri Lanka on June 1.
IANS does a SWOT analysis of the New Zealand side for the showpiece event
The biggest strength of the New Zealand side is perhaps the calm and composed leadership of Williamson. One of the modern day greats, Williamson has led from the front and has gone about the business in a highly professional manner.
Although, his captaincy style is different to that of McCullum, Williamson has made sure that the Black Caps perform well in all the formats of the game, especially in the limited-overs setup.
Along with Ross Taylor, Williamson has scored the bulk of the runs for New Zealand and has several matches for the team. Taylor, probably playing in his last World Cup, has been in tremendous form in the last three years and boasts of an average of 60.50, 91.29 and 74.13 in 2017, 2018 and 2019 respectively.
The slot for the opening partner of Martin Guptill remains a cause of concern for Williamson and Co. Colin Munro has not been able to perform on a consistent basis in the recent past and is unlikely to be a part of the starting XI, with Henry Nicholls almost certain to open the innings.
Another worry for the Black Caps is the inconsistent form of their big-hitting all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme. Although, he has played a few cameos in the recent times, his inconsistency with the bat has not allowed New Zealand to get the late flourish.
Wicket-keeper batsman Tom Blundell, who has been included in the squad after Tim Seifert suffered a finger injury, would be rearing to go and showcase his talent with the bat in the showpiece event. Also, with Tom Latham ruled out of the warm-up games, Blundell would like to impress the skipper with his glovework and make a strong case to be included in the playing XI once the tournament starts.
Another opportunity lies ahead for experienced campaigner Trent Boult. Boult who did not get to play enough matches in the IPL, will be leading New Zealand’s pace attack alongside Lockie Ferguson, who would be playing his first World Cup.
Also, skipper Williamson would hope that left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner proves to be the trump card and pick wickets during the middle overs on flat pitches which would be on offer in England.
One of the main threats that lie before the Black Caps is their habit of losing momentum at crucial stages of the ICC events. Even after reaching their first ever finals four years ago, New Zealand had literally surrendered before Australia and were just not able to give any fight to the mighty Aussies.
Known as the dark horses, the number four ranked ODI side would be hoping to take their form into the business end of the tournament, if they make it to the semis and inch closer to their first World Cup title.
Squad: Kane Williamson (c), Tom Blundell, Trent Boult, Colin de Grandhomme, Lockie Ferguson, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Colin Munro, Jimmy Neesham, Henry Nicholls, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor
(Aakash Kumar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)