After falling at the final hurdle at the past two Cricket World Cups this edition will be the last shot at glory for many of the Black Caps, though fitness concerns already have their 2023 campaign on tenterhooks.
Squad: Kane Williamson (c), Trent Boult, Mark Chapman, Devon Conway, Lockie Ferguson, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Daryl Mitchell, Jimmy Neesham, Glenn Phillips, Rachin Ravindra, Mitch Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Will Young.
Best finish at the tournament
Runners-up (2015, 2019)
It would be easy to focus on the disappointing end to the past two World Cup campaigns but that would gloss over the outstanding cricket played by New Zealand across both tournaments.
Sharing hosting rights with Australia and playing on home soil all the way up to the final, the Black Caps did not fall into the pressures of expectations, even beating eventual tournament winners Australia in the early stages in a nail-biting Eden Park thriller.
Eden Park was the same stage for the now-famous semi-final meeting with South Africa, and Grant Elliott was the hero at the death, hitting a six into the crowd to secure a path to the final.
Come the final against Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, New Zealand were all but taken out of the game before they even had a chance to set their feet.
A beauty from Mitch Starc third ball of the innings would have dismissed anyone at the tournament, let alone all-time great Brendon McCullum, and the Aussies ran away untouched.
The progression was similar four years later, moving to the semi-finals and again prevailing this time against India, holding their nerve as push came to shove in a tense affair.
The ending to the story is all too documented, though it is worth reiterating only a boundary countback separated England from New Zealand when the dust settled after the Super Over.
Results in the last 10 ODI games
(Most recent first): W W N/R L L L W W L L
vs England (5 October), Ahmedabad
vs Netherlands (9 October), Hyderabad
vs Bangladesh (13 October), Chennai
vs Afghanistan (18 October), Chennai
vs India (22 October), Dharamsala
vs Australia (28 October), Dharamsala
vs South Africa (1 November), Pune
vs Pakistan (4 November), Bengaluru
vs Sri Lanka (9 November), Bengaluru
vs Pakistan (4 November), Bengaluru
Another team predicted to be on the semi-final bubble, Pakistan are a side New Zealand more than likely would have to beat if they were to make a semi-final run at this year’s tournament.
The Bengaluru meeting is New Zealand’s penultimate match, and a final meeting with Sri Lanka at the same ground looms as another must-win game.
New Zealand and Pakistan should solve their respective selection questions by 4 November, but it is worth noting that they both come in with the same dilemmas.
Both are dealing with a key fast bowler injury (Tim Southee battling a hand injury in the build-up, Naseem Shah out of the tournament), and both sides are crying out for a spinner to step up.
Neither Shadab Khan and Mohammad Nawaz stand out as a truly front-line spinner, but the same can be argued about Mitch Santner and Ish Sodhi.
Santner is deployed more to hold up an end than to take wickets, while Sodhi, as effective as he is in T20 cricket, has been handled well by many opposition batting line-ups in 50-over action.
The teams have solid batting line-ups centred around their respective captains Kane Williamson and Babar Azam, though both need a batter to accelerate either at the top or through the middle. For New Zealand, Daryl Mitchell could be the X-factor in this fixture.
The teams are familiar foes having played eight times in ODIs this year. Pakistan hold an 5-3 record over New Zealand in that time, though it must be noted that all matches were played on their home soil across two series.
New Zealand must take wickets while the ball is swinging if they are to make tournament headway, and early damage will most likely come from the left-armer.
The 34-year-old refused to take a New Zealand contract to focus on family and franchise cricket, though the speedster has performed for his country when appearing sporadically.
Boult has taken 39 wickets at just 21.79 in Cricket World Cup action, and the India tournament will likely be his last. Now equipped with marked experience and still possessing the zip that helped him burst on the scene, Boult remains a pivotal member in New Zealand’s side.
Whilst prevailing in the World Test Championship final in 2021, this generation of New Zealand’s men will feel they have come up a fraction short having lost two Cricket World Cup Finals and the T20 World Cup 2021 Final in the space of eight years.
This tournament signals probably the last opportunity for a bulk of the group, and their best cricket puts them in the conversation as title hopefuls.
Injury has meant the side have struggled to prepare, however. It’s almost a miracle Kane Williamson has managed to be in consideration just five months after rupturing his ACL, while Tim Southee has also come through ready to go.
The same cannot be said for all-rounder Michael Bracewell who has been ruled out of the tournament and will be a huge loss given his meteoric rise as an international all-rounder.
The absence of Bracewell has also forced a change of thinking, with the two players brought in to play a similar role - Mark Chapman and Rachin Ravindra - both bowling left-arm finger spin instead of Bracewell’s off-spin. Their similarity to Mitch Santner’s left-arm orthodox potentially means a lack of variation opposition players can exploit.
As an extension to this, the use of Ish Sodhi with these options is another factor consider, but it means four bowlers turn the ball the same way. This means Glenn Phillips handy off-spin may be utilised more than otherwise expected.
Providing Williamson is fit, the batting looks safe, though the ability of Daryl Mitchell to lift the strike rate will be crucial, as well as Devon Conway’s ability to play both accumulator or aggressor.
With 12 out of the 15 squad members on the wrong side of 30, it’s a last hurrah for this generation of Black Caps.
The side should find solace in the fact they play back-to-back matches at the same venue three times, and they can lay claim to being in the handful of teams that are a genuine World Cup chance.