One of the most unexpected and fascinating sights in the 1992 World Cup, the first one to be played in colored clothing, was the new ball bowler for New Zealand. Dipak Patel, with his wily off spin bowling led the Kiwi surge in that tournament which was ended by eventual champions Pakistan in the finals. 1992 marked the arrival of New Zealand onto the big stage of cricket. A country known for its picturesque locations as witnessed in the movie Lord of the Rings, cricket faces a genuinely tough task of unearthing talent in face of a robust contest from rugby where the Kiwis rule the roost.
New Zealand come into this tournament as a strong underdog and a serious contender to be at least one of the last four teams. A sense of calm and confident current flows through the current team and playing at home will provide them with the added advantage of knowing the conditions. The present team differs from its predecessors in possessing a power packed batting lineup supported by top class bowlers, who are well versed in bowling on all type of wickets. As usual their allrounders provide the necessary edge required for any top class team to go deep into the tournament.
Led from the front by a matured Brendon McCullum, one of the foremost destructive players in the present day sport, the Kiwis have a powerful batting line up. An inform McCullum can easily propel them to their final frontier. His inner strength will be tested to the core especially in the knockout phases of the tournament. In Kane Williamson, Kiwis possess probably their best ever player to yield the willow. His consistency and ability to adapt to the formats and wickets make him a formidable player these days. He will be one of the player to watch out in the tournament especially in the run charts.
Ross Taylor always manages to come up with the crucial runs when his team needs them and this tournament played at home with short boundaries should suit his style of game. Martin Guptill and Tom Latham form the rest of the batting group. With talent in abundance centuries and big runs are what all these players will be hoping for. The pride of any yesteryear Kiwi team has been how their all rounders performed and this time around they possess Corey Anderson who till recently was the proud holder of the fastest century mark. His powerful batting down the order will provide additional headaches to the opponents apart from his skill as a decent left arm medium pacer. He will be hoping to use this grand stage to propel his International career.
Grant Elliot managed to get the second seaming all rounder spot and justified it by scoring a magnificent century against Sri Lankans. His medium pace bowling suits the type of wickets on which the Kiwis are expected to play. At 35 years of age, he knows time is running out and would like to go out with a swansong. Luke Ronchi has been a revelation for the Kiwis of late. He now plays the key role of finisher in this team along with the all rounders. Apart from being a safe glovesman, his batting in international cricket has come leaps and bounds and would like to use this event to showcase his skills in front of a world audience.
Daniel Vettori is back in the colored clothing and his experience will provide the Kiwis a genuine wicket taking option via the spin bowling. Nathan McCullum is the second spinner in the team although his game time might be limited considering the playing conditions in that part of the world. The Kiwis are now in possession of genuine variety of fast bowlers who not only differ in the way how they bowl, but also possess the unique ability of picking up wickets with their bowling skills making them a dangerous pack.
Tim Southee has been their best bowler over the years and his ability with both the new and old ball has won them many a games recently. His opening partner Trent Boult has been a revelation. His ability to swing the ball at a very good pace makes him tough bowler to play against. Look out for his name in the bowling leader charts of the tournament.
Adam Milne with his extreme pace has been the new sensation in this team. His lack of control could be a problem against teams adapted to play on quick pitches but his pace and bounces make him a guarantee starter especially against the sub continental teams. Kyle Mills and McClenaghan form rest of the pace bowling pack and might mostly be reserves unless one of the other bowlers has a dip in their form or gets injured.
Apart from being a very balanced batting and bowling set up the Kiwis are an outstanding fielding unit as witnessed in their recent encounters. Apart from Kyle Mills who is not expected to play a major role, there is no other fielding weak link in this side.
They play in the curtain raiser of the tournament against Sri Lankans at Christchurch come 14 of February. Expect them to perform very well in the tournament and with a little bit of luck at crucial times they might even end up holding the trophy aloft.
New Zealand Team: Brendon McCullum (C), Corey Anderson, Trent Boult, Grant Elliott, Martin Guptill, Tom Latham, Mitchell McClenaghan, Nathan McCullum, Kyle Mills, Adam Milne, Luke Ronchi (WK), Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Daniel Vettori, Kane Williamson.
– Asvin Lakkaraju [Asvin plays for the Swiss National Team .and is a sports analyst for the Cricket Galaxy at Sportz Cosmos. Join him on twitter here.]