By Rex Clementine

In recent years, no team can boast of the consistency that New Zealand have come up with in ICC events. They were losing finalists in the last year’s T-20 World Cup, where there was heartbreak after Australia’s come from behind win to clinch their first title. Two years prior to that, they lost the 50 over World Cup final as well to England at Lord’s; in another game where grown up men were in tears consoling each other. Sandwiched in between those final defeats was  the victory in the World Test Championship where they beat India in the final at Southampton. How far will the Kiwis go this time around?

Well, they have been superb this year in T-20 cricket having lost just three games. In 2022, they have won 12 T-20 games, nine of them in a row, an enviable record. That puts them as title contenders in Australia.

One problem with the Kiwis is that they are in the group of death. England and Australia are the teams that are tipped to go through from the group but Kane Williamson’s side is capable of smashing off those predictions.

Williamson is the key for the New Zealanders. As he plays the anchor role, others play around him.

Opener Finn Allen, a 23-year-old hard-hitting batsman gives the firepower top of the order. In his brief international career, he has already made a hundred in T-20 Internationals.  The current New Zealand squad has three players who have made hundreds in T-20 cricket with Glenn Philips and Martin Guptill being the others.

Guptill has so far played in all T-20 World Cups, except one, which is quite a record and statement for his longevity in the sport. He missed the first World Cup in 2007 but since then has been an integral part of the New Zealand side going into his seventh World Cup. He is 36 and don’t rule him out at the next edition in 2024 when the sport is venturing to new territories – hosting the game’s showpiece event in the US.

Jimmy Neesham gives the team depth with his expertise as a finisher.

New Zealand’s bowling will miss Kyle Jamieson, who is injured. But their pace department is rich with skill and variety with the likes of Trent Boult, Lockie Ferguson, Tim Southee and Adam Milne giving Williamson plenty of options. If the captain wants outright pace, he has got them or if he is looking for swing bowling that base too is covered.

Spin is New Zealand’s only weak link as it was evident last time. Ish Sodhi and Mitchell Santner are their go to spinners and maybe in Australian conditions spin won’t be as crucial as it was in UAE.

New Zealand also has the best fielding outfit in the tournament. They also have many fans outside New Zealand given the way how they play the game. They are magnanimous in victory and gracious in defeat and we have much to learn from the Kiwis.

Squad: Kane Williamson (Captain), Tim Southee, Ish Sodhi, Mitchell Santner, Glenn Phillips, Jimmy Neesham, Daryl Mitchell, Adam Milne, Martin Guptill, Lockie Ferguson, Devon Conway, Mark Chapman, Michael Bracewell, Trent Boult and Finn Allen.