Kane Williamson will lead the Black Caps in a World Cup for the first time and his team would look to go one step further than in 2015, when it reached the final under Brendon McCullum’s captaincy.
New Zealand’s major strengths are its depth in batting and well-rounded bowling unit.
Apart from the uncertainty whether Colin Munro or Henry Nicholls partners Martin Guptill at the top of the order, New Zealand’s batting looks settled with Williamson, Ross Taylor and Tom Latham forming the engine room. With big-hitting James Neesham likely to be slotted at No. 6, followed by Mitchell Santner at No. 7, New Zealand will back itself to hunt down big totals and score big while batting first.
Trent Boult spearheads a bowling attack which is likely to be completed by Lockie Ferguson, Matt Henry and Ish Sodhi, with Santner and Neesham being the fifth and sixth bowling options. Tim Southee relies on conditions more than others and is not among the first names on the team sheet.
New Zealand batsmen have had difficulty against spin in the past. Williamson and Tom Latham are among the two most adept against spin in world cricket and they will be key to New Zealand’s game-plan, particularly during the middle overs, when the opposition spinners are on. But the likes of Guptill, Munro, Taylor and Colin de Grandhomme are vulnerable against spin and how the Kiwis bat against the slow bowlers could alter the course of matches.
McCullum, the protagonist of New Zealand’s run to the MCG final in 2015, had said that his team got “no regrets” after finishing runner-up. New Zealand has six players in the current squad from 2015 and for the Williamsons, Taylors, Boults and Southees, this, in conditions that are not alien to them, is their best chance to win a World Cup.
New Zealand is among the frontrunners to reach the semifinals, but its greatest challenge is likely to come from the sub-continental teams that have quality spinners in their ranks.
Squad: Kane Williamson (capt), Tom Blundell (wk), Trent Boult, Colin de Grandhomme, Lockie Ferguson, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Tom Latham (wk), Colin Munro, Jimmy Neesham, Henry Nicholls, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor.
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