Mumbai: 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup – the England and Wales-based showpiece -- will start on May 30, and will go on till July 14. However, this year the cricket governing body has decided to change the format of the tournament -– where ten teams will play versus other nine teams, and the four teams that comes out on top will advance to the semi-finals.
Nonetheless, today we look at the teams which have a good shot at the title. We will also look at some of the key players who may turn the tide in their team’s favour at any given moment.
It isn’t advisable to write off New Zealand. The Kiwis, time and again, have proved that they’ve in them to show they can progress all the way through the tournament. How can we forget that the black caps were the runners-up of the 2015 World Cup?.
The Brendon McCullum-led team penetrated through all the teams to progress to the final. Unfortunately, in the final the Australians completely outplayed them, hence extending their wait to lift their first World Cup trophy for yet another four years.
But now the wait is over and the Kiwis are ready to pounce on any opportunity and lift their maiden World Cup title. Although, this time there’s no Brendon McCullum, Daniel Vettori and Grant Elliot, who were the de-facto players in the Kiwis’ success last time. Despite their absence, the black caps still have a quality all-round side, which is full of match winners.
New Zealand has a knack of making it to the semifinals but they will most probably face England, Australia and India again in the knockouts and the finals if they reach that stage. New Zealand have reached the semi-final in the 1975, 1979, 1992, 1999, 2007 and 2011 editions of World Cup.
Like South Africa, the New Zealand cricket team also have the knack to choke at wrong times.
The Kiwis exited the round-robin stage during 1983, and 1987 – wherein they finished as fifth and sixth respectively. In 2003 the black cap’s journey was till the super sixes. History says that the Kiwis have never won a World Cup. However, the only major tournament that they have won is the ICC Champions Trophy (ICC knockout trophy back in the 2000’s).
Here, in this article, we will analyse five players – five game changing players – out of the 15-member Kiwi squad.
The Kiwis were the first to declare their 15-member World Cup squad. The 15-member squad is as follows:-
Kane Williamson (captain), Martin Guptill, Henry Nicholls, Ross Taylor, Tom Latham, Colin Munro, Tom Blundell, Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner, Jimmy Neesham, Ish Sodhi, Matt Henry, Lockie Ferguson, Tim Southee, Trent Boult
Surprisingly, they decided to include Test debutant, Tom Blundell, who is yet to make his ODI debut. On the contrary, Tim Seifert, who played brilliantly in the T20 series versus India was left out of the World Cup squad.
The Kiwis’ batting order is filled with openers like Guptill and Munro, who provide flying starts succeeded by Williamson, Taylor and Latham, who anchor the middle order. Then they have pinch-hitting all-rounders like Corey Anderson and James Neesham who add a cherie to the pie.
These all-rounders have the ability to score extra runs, and take the score above 300 plus or in case of a run chase they can bring the run-rate down.
Un-doubtedly called one of the world’s best batsman. Kane Williamson’s class and temperament made him the wall of the Kiwi squad. With an overall batting average of nearly 46, and in of any batting order collapse during the middle overs then he becomes crucial to resurrect the Kiwis’ innings.
New Zealand's success in this mega tournament will depend a lot on Williamson's performance. Though he seemed lack lustre in the last edition, he will be eager to make this edition a memorable one for himself and fans.
Ross Taylor’s figures after the 2015 World Cup is quite similar to Virat Kohli. The consistency and desire he has shown across all formats has been staggering. However, among all formats it’s ultimately the ODI format wherein he has shined tremenduously.
In the 2011 World Cup, Taylor notched up 324 runs at an average of 64.80 and was the high-scorer for the Kiwis. Though he had a dismal performance in the 2015 edition, he is eager to improve that in this year’s World Cup.
During the early 2017, Taylor amassed 15 half centuries and five centuries. He crossed Stephen Fleming to be New Zealand’s highest run scorer in ODI cricket. The fact he only took 62 innings than Fleming indicates his consistency. Besides Williamson, he is expected to be one of the prime batsman.
Post the Brendon McCullum era, Guptill has become an integral part of their success in the 50-overs format. Since the 2015 World Cup, Martin Guptill has been absolutely phenomenal. During the last four years Guptill notched up nine of his 16 hundreds, and this states his consistency. Let’s not forget that he was the top run scorer during the 2015 World Cup, and also he scored a mammoth 237 not out against the West Indies.
Guptill has played in the last two editions of the world cup and scored 262 runs at an average of 43.66. Moreover, he was also the second highest run-scorer for the Kiwis just behind Ross Taylor. He improved his performance in 2015 when he topped the list by scoring 547 runs from 9 matches.
It’s time to look at their bowling. The pair of Boult-Southee is one of the most consistent bowling pair during the last seven to eight years. Boult is fast, and accurate, and during the death overs he bowls accurate yorkers which makes him one lethal bowler. The spin department isn’t reliable but Ish Sodhi is managing well.
Globally called as one of the best left-arm swing bowlers, Trent Boult’s ability to take wickets early on will be important to New Zealand’s success as a bowling unit. His long time opening partner Tim Southee is no longer a first-choice player in the starting XI and that makes Boult’s contribution integral, not only with the ball, but also in terms of guiding Matt Henry and Lockie Ferguson.
Pitches in England will be flat and and hence the spearhead of the attack must be alert to ensure they don’t have to chase a large taget. Beside Mitchell Starc, Boult was also the highest wicket taker in the 2015 World Cup with a scalp of 22 wickets at an average of 16.86.
Tim Southee’s poor form during the last few years raises questions regarding his selection for the World Cup. He produced a decent performance in the 2015 World Cup where he scalped 15 wickets from nine games at an average of 31.46. However, his performances after that have been pathetic. He has been named as a reserve member of the ODI squad.
However, if Matt Henry and Lockie Ferguson gets injured, then Southee must step up. At 30 years of age, he would like to believe he still has lot of cricket inside him. His recent performances in the Indian Premier League haven’t impressed the management either.
Tim Southee, along with Trent Boult, are one of the most lethal pacers of this generation. Having made his ODI debut in 2008 and during the next decade, Southee has established himself as one of the most eminent swing-bowlers in the world.
Though Southee has a vast collection of deliveries, his late outswingers have caused the most damage to the batsmen facing him. His ability to bowl off cutting slower balls, which acts almost like a quick off-spinner comes quite handy during the slog overs.
In a career running above a decade, he has played 139 one-day internationals in which he has notched up 186 wickets. He is lethal in world cups. He scalped 18 wickets at an impressive average of 17.33 in the 2011 World Cup and 15 wickets from nine matches in the 2015 World Cup.
Fans still remember how he destroyed the English batsmen in the last World Cup. That was certainly his one of the great bowling spells in world cup history. Southee registered a figure of 7 for 33, brought down England at 123. More of these performances will be expected from him in this World Cup too.
Issues that needs to be sorted out by New Zealand
New Zealand head into the World Cup with issues like sorting out their batting line-up. The Kiwi openers have been in a rough patch for quite sometimetime. For the last 15 ODIs, they have only scored 180 runs. And, the batting is heavily dependent on Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor. If they sort out this problem, then one can expect the Kiwis to reach till semi-final if not the final.
Like every World Cup, in this year’s World Cup too New Zealand goes into the World Cup as one of the dark horses. Since the 2015 World Cup the team has been going through a transition period. The team has a good combination of experienced players and young players.
The bowling department is quite in-experienced in-comparison to the batting section and that is where Williamson’s captaincy skills would be an influencing factor. The way in which he brings out the best from his bowlers to go with Jimmy Neesham will tell if they have it in them to make it to the semi-finals....