New Zealand ICC World Twenty20 2016 Preview
A settled team with several players who can play an all-round role, New Zealand has all it takes to go the distance in the ICC World T20 2016
07 March 2016 19:10
Group: New Zealand is in Group 2, alongside India, Pakistan, Australia, and Group A Qualifier.
Captain: Kane Williamson
Coach: Mike Hesson
Preview: There is no denying that New Zealand has been a brilliant T20I side at home, but with the World T20 again in the subcontinent, where it has generally been found wanting, it will need to put together a special performance to go the distance. Former champions India and Pakistan, and even a trophy-less Australia will fancy its chances against a New Zealand side that doesn't have Brendon McCullum – the batsman or the captain – to turn to. But this team isn't a rudderless ship by any means, and flying slightly under the radar could work in its favour.
Martin Guptill, who struggled in the Tests against Australia and was previously ignored in the Indian Premier League auction, will have a thing or two to prove to the doubting Thomases, while the return of Ross Taylor, Mitchell Santner and Mitchell McClenaghan after a lengthy injury break will be a big boost.
Strengths: New Zealand has a settled team with several players who can play an all-round role like Corey Anderson, Grant Elliott, Mitchell Santner and Nathan McCullum. It will add depth to an already formidable line-up that includes Martin Guptill, Kane Williamson, Colin Munro and Ross Taylor. Bowling wise, Tim Southee and Trent Boult bring with them plenty of experience, while Adam Milne and Mitchell McClenaghan can serve up quite the pace. Along with Santner and McCullum, Ish Sodhi provides an extra spin option.
Recent form: Won against Pakistan by 95 runs, Won against Pakistan by ten wickets, Lost to Pakistan by 16 runs, Won against Sri Lanka by nine wickets, Won against Sri Lanka by three runs.
Star player: Kane Williamson
“He's a genius.” Brendon McCullum's take on Kane Williamson is a sentiment shared by most of the cricket fraternity. The late Martin Crowe even went one step further, predicting Williamson to becoming the greatest run scorer in New Zealand history. Time will tell, but with over a thousand runs in both Tests and ODIs in 2015, he's certainly on the right path.
Next on his agenda is leading the side for the first time since McCullum's retirement. Though Williamson is not one to bash boundaries at will like his predecessor, his consistency is impressive; he's notched up three half-centuries in his last five T20I games.
Since his T20I debut against Zimbabwe in October 2001, Williamson has played 30 games, hitting 844 runs at 36.69 with a healthy strike-rate of 127.68. A useful part-time offspinner and a brilliant fielder, he has assured that New Zealand will continue to play an attacking brand of cricket under his leadership.
One to Watch: Colin Munro
He made his T20I debut back in December 2012, but it was only in January 2016 that Colin Munro entered the public consciousness. Finishing as the top run-getter in New Zealand's 2015-16 domestic T20 tournament, with 366 runs in 11 games at 40.66 and a strike rate of 175.96, Munro had the talent but could he translate it into international runs and reboot his career?
The answer was yes, and yes. In a game against Sri Lanka, mere moments after Martin Guptill hit the fastest New Zealand T20I fifty off 19 balls, Munro smacked an unbeaten 14-ball fifty to seal a win. The knock, containing seven sixes and one four, was the second-fastest T20I fifty after Yuvraj's 12-ball effort in World T20 2007 and it catapulted him into the limelight.
Munro, however, wasn't content with just that. Four days later, he blasted 56 off 27 balls, with six sixes and two fours, against Pakistan even as eight of his teammates fell for a score of 3 or less. New Zealand lost the game, but found a gem of a player.
#That6Hitter: Ross Taylor
One of New Zealand's most dynamic batsmen, Ross Taylor can send the ball a long distance, and this World T20 he's been given the license to do exactly that by the team management. Instead of batting at his usual No. 4 spot, Taylor will be coming in at No. 5 to play the finisher role. For long, Taylor has played an anchor role, but this move could see him flourish, much to the dismay of spinners everywhere. After all, he was once called “a murderer of spinners” by none other than Anil Kumble, so if he gets going, watch out.
In 68 T20Is, Taylor has hit 45 sixes so far and holds the record for most sixes (20) for New Zealand in World T20 history. New Zealand will hope the batting shuffle results in plenty more of that.
New Zealand has been involved in two of the three ties in World T20 history and lost both in the Super Over.
Kane Williamson holds the record for the highest percentage (70%) contribution (of a completed innings) to a team's total in a T20I.
Daniel Vettori (5.83) and Nathan McCullum (6.08) are the second and third most economical bowlers in World T20 history.
Brendon McCullum is one of six players to have hit a century in World T20, in the 2012 edition against Bangladesh.
Key match: Australia
The Trans-Tasman rivalry caught the imagination of everyone during the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2015 and of late the two teams have traded plenty of punches. With New Zealand and Australia set to meet for the first time in World T20 history, in picturesque Dharamsala, expect the match to be equally arresting.
Australia lords above New Zealand in the overall head-to-head record in T20Is, winning four games and losing one in a Super Over after a tie. All the fixtures were on Australian or New Zealand soil so perhaps a new setting will help New Zealand change that pesky statistic.
What people are saying about them:
“There's no doubt we have a good team. We're going to need a little bit of luck and play off our heads to win that tournament.” – Shane Bond, former New Zealand player
“New Zealand will have to play extraordinary cricket in order to win the ICC World T20 2016.” – Scott Styris, former New Zealand player
“They have done so well in recent times and they will surely be a team who will be tough to beat. If somehow they can manage to sneak into the knockout rounds, then the Kiwis have a good chance to go all the way. Watch out for Kane Williamson and Mitchell Santner!” – James Franklin, former New Zealand player
Pommie Mbangwa Prediction – Super 10
Normally, I could pencil this side into the semi-finals of world tournaments, but I think that Brendon McCullum is a big loss and his absence will be felt. Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Kane Williamson become the main men in that side and, with a little help from Corey Anderson and Martin Guptill, one would expect great things, but essentially they were greater than the sum of their parts because of their leader McCullum.
Squad: Kane Williamson (capt), Ross Taylor (vice-capt), Corey Anderson, Trent Boult, Grant Elliott, Martin Guptill, Adam Milne, Mitchell McClenaghan, Colin Munro, Nathan McCullum, Henry Nicholls, Luke Ronchi (wk), Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee.
Tuesday March 15: v India, VCA Stadium, Nagpur
Friday March 18: v Australia, HPCA Stadium, Dharamsala
Tuesday March 22: v Pakistan, PCA Stadium, Mohali
Saturday March 26: v Group A Qualifier, Eden Gardens, Kolkata