T20 World Cup: New Zealand team preview - Setting short-term goals

Placed in a competitive group alongside India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, the Kiwis will thrive on the leadership skills of Kane Williamson.

Big hitter: Glenn Phillips, the wicketkeeper-batsman, has emerged as the best six-hitter of 2021 with 89 under his belt, which includes the ones he smashed in The Hundred for Welsh Fire. He credited his gym workout for the aerial strikes.   -  Getty Images

“I guess our first one is focusing on one game at a time, but the main goal is to get to that semi-finals stage and if you’re there, you’ll know that you’re only two wins away from a title,” New Zealand coach Gary Stead said, ahead of the tournament.

New Zealand will be keen on adding to its ICC cabinet after the World Test Championship triumph in June. Placed in a competitive group alongside India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, the Kiwis will thrive on the leadership skills of Kane Williamson.

Nine out of the 15 players have been part of the Indian Premier League in the United Arab Emirates. Their views and mindset can help the others in the group acclimatise faster.

All-format player

This Cup could belong to Devon Conway. Always on a mission, the left-hander is an all-format player for the Black Caps. Though he hasn’t played in the UAE, he will be a fast learner to adjust to the conditions.

It’s not even a year since Conway made his international debut, and he already has a double hundred in Tests, an ODI hundred and almost one in a T20I — he had finished 99 not out against Australia in Christchurch in March. Conway is South Africa’s gift to New Zealand. The Johannesburg-born cricketer moved to the island nation in 2017. He was eligible to represent the national team from August 2020.

READ: India vs Pakistan game hots up Group B

Martin Guptill, one of the senior-most campaigners, still remains a strong weapon in the batting order. The right-hander struck form in the series against Australia with two match-winning fifties.

Williamson will be the anchor, who is capable of batting till the end to finish the games.

Trump card: It’s not even a year since Devon Conway made his international debut, and he already has a double hundred in Tests, an ODI hundred and almost one in a T20I — he had finished 99 not out against Australia in Christchurch in March.   -  Getty Images

 

Strong bowling line-up

The bowling department is straight out of the ICC T20I ranking books. Ish Sodhi, Mitchell Santner and Tim Southee are all in the top 10 list of bowlers. Trent Boult, Lockie Ferguson and Kyle Jamieson can win games in one or two spells.

Mark Chapman, who represented Hong Kong in the T20 World Cup in 2014 and 2016, will experience a special moment in a different jersey. New Zealand can experiment with the left-right combination as it has four specialists in its armoury — Conway, Chapman, James Neesham and Santner.

Pakistan was dealt with a massive economic blow after New Zealand pulled out of the limited-overs series in September. Coincidentally, the Black Caps will face the men in green in their opening fixture on October 26 in Sharjah.

“Obviously, what happened in Pakistan was sad for Pakistan cricket, their players and also our players, who missed out on that opportunity as well. We can’t change what has happened there. All we can do is prepare for the tournament and we face Pakistan first up,” New Zealand coach Gary Stead told reporters ahead of the tournament.

Stead knows it will be challenging to beat the teams in Group 2, but he has set short-term goals. “I guess our first one is focusing on one game at a time, but the main goal is to get to that semi-finals stage and if you’re there, you’ll know that you’re only two wins away from a title.

“We’re in a tough pool, I genuinely think there are six to seven teams that could win this tournament and I guess that’s good for world cricket as well,” he said.

Weakness: New Zealand looks a complete side.

The squad:
  • Kane Williamson (captain), Todd Astle, Trent Boult, Mark Chapman, Devon Conway, Lockie Ferguson, Martin Guptill, Kyle Jamieson, Daryl Mitchell, Jimmy Neesham, Glenn Phillips, Mitchell Santner, Tim Seifert (wk), Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee.
  • Reserve: Adam Milne (injury cover).

X-factor: Glenn Phillips

The wicketkeeper-batter has emerged as the best six-hitter of 2021 with 89 under his belt, which includes the ones he smashed in The Hundred for Welsh Fire. He credited his gym workout for the aerial strikes. Phillips has been travelling since May. He has been part of the Vitality Blast, the Caribbean Premier League, The Hundred and the IPL for Rajasthan Royals.

“I feel like I have the ability to control the pace of the game depending on what the situation is like regardless of the position I’m batting at. So, if you lose wickets, I feel like I have the ability to be able to take the game deep and then accelerate at the end. Having power in my game does allow me to take it deep till the end and catch up. I can give the team a fast start as well, but also play the longer innings,” he was quoted as saying by Rajasthan Royals.