After a series of upsets, can New Zealand win their first-ever World Cup crown?
New Zealand has always been one of the best-performing sides in almost all the editions of the ICC World Cup, in which they have participated. However, fumbling for the title in the knockouts has always emerged as the destiny of the Blackcaps.
Similar scenes were witnessed in the last two editions of the World Cup, which took place in 2015 and 2019. New Zealand reached the final in the 2015 ICC World Cup with the help of stellar performances from Martin Guptill and Trent Boult.
However, they lost the championship final by seven wickets against Australia. On the other hand, the Blackcaps had a very unfortunate time at Lord’s Cricket Ground after England was labelled as the champions on boundary count after the score of the match and super over the tie in the end.
Martin Guptill and Ross Taylor, who played an important role in the batting line-up of the Blackcaps are not a part of the team as they have already announced their retirement. Hence, a lot of new names will be representing New Zealand for the first time in the cricketing mega event.
Kane Williamson ©, Trent Boult, Mark Chapman, Devon Conway, Lockie Ferguson, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Daryl Mitchell, Jimmy Neesham, Glenn Phillips, Rachin Ravindra, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Will Young
Solid Bowling line-up: New Zealand has always been a bowling-dominant side. With the likes of the menacing pace of Trent Boult, Lockie Ferguson, Matt Henry, and Tim Southee, their pace attack is one of the most fearsome in the upcoming ICC World Cup.
Boult played a crucial role against England in the recent ODI series. He also maintained his image of picking up early wickets against the Poms by taking eight wickets in just two matches. Lockie Ferguson is also slowly getting into his form, while Tim Southee’s experience at the top level of cricket is unparalleled.
On the other hand, Ish Sodhi has been out of sorts in the many months during the build-up to the 2023 CWC and the right-arm leg break bowler was expected to play a significant role in the middle overs with the eminent x-factor who can flip the game upside down. Thus, we might see Mitchell Santner and Rachin Ravindra playing in tandem with the three fast bowlers in the upcoming ICC World Cup.
Reliable all-rounders and part-time bowlers: Ahead of the cricketing megafest, the Blackcaps have a decent set of all-rounders. Mitchell Santner has proved himself as a reliable all-rounder for New Zealand in different leagues and tournaments across various nations.
Glenn Phillips and Rachin Ravindra have shown the ability to shine with the bat and bowl a certain quantity of overs that aids the team well, especially in spin-favoring conditions. Both players have enchanted the spectators on many occasions with powerful shots towards the end of the innings. In addition to that, Ish Sodhi also acquires the batting skill that can also hold the match, when he comes to bat as a tailender.
Lack of reliable batters: Despite having the likes of Tom Latham, Mark Chapman, Devon Conway, and Will Young in the playing XI, the Blackcaps are constantly failing to give reliable performances.
Latham and Young have been out of form since a long time while Conway and Chapman have a couple of good innings in a long time. Daryl Mitchell was expected to emerge as a pillar in the playing XI but he has also been constantly failing to settle his feet.
Kane Williamson will join the team but his return is still under huge doubt. Only Glenn Phillips has been a constant performer. He has played important knocks against the likes of England, Pakistan, and UAE. However, Phillips requires a set of batters who can accompany him in the 50-over journeys.
Lack of cohesion within the selected squad: The main team of New Zealand has made various changes in the playing squad in the last few series. From batting to bowling, they tried using all the different combinations in order to find the perfect team for the ICC Cricket World Cup. As a result, few of the players who have found a place in the playing team for the cricketing megafest haven’t got enough playing time.
Names such as Trent Boult and Jimmy Neesham haven’t played for the nation regularly. The batting line-up has also suffered from constant changes as the Blackcaps have tried various fusions in the top as well as the middle order. In addition to that, Kane Williamson will be making his comeback after a long period of injury.
Emerging as the new talisman of the Blackcaps: For a long time, Kane Williamson and Trent Boult were seen as the top players for the Kiwis. However, this World Cup can be their swansong, and the Blackcaps are required to crown the new talisman of the team. The team has a variety of talents but they are failing to work as a team.
In the absence of Kane Williamson, Tom Latham was leading the ODI team of the Blackcaps. Hence, he has a perfect opportunity to prove himself on the big stage by anchoring the innings. On the other hand, Glenn Phillips can also be a possible candidate in the race to become the new talisman of the Blackcaps.
Experienced players missing initial matches: Kane Williamson has been named as the captain of the Blackcaps. However, he’s expected to miss the two initial matches of the ICC Cricket World Cup. New Zealand will be locking horns against England (October 5) and the Netherlands (October 9) in their first two fixtures of the tournament.
Williamson suffered an injury in the opening match of the 2023 IPL rupturing his right knee’s anterior cruciate ligament while trying to catch the ball on the boundary line against Chennai Super Kings. On the other side, Tim Southee’s participation in the World Cup is also under a huge question mark.
Southee dislocated his right thumb while fielding in an ODI against England, last week. The 34-year-old also underwent surgery on Thursday. His comeback is currently uncertain and he can potentially miss the initial matches of the World Cup.
Predicted Playing XI:
Will Young, Devon Conway, Kane Williamson, Daryl Mitchell, Tom Latham (C), Glenn Phillips, Rachin Ravindra, Mitchell Santner, Trent Boult, Matt Henry, Lockie Ferguson