The excitement is palpable as one of the most enthralling tournaments in world cricket is almost upon us. The ICC T20I World Cup gets underway this month, and we preview the 16 teams that will be competing to lift the famous trophy. Here we have the lowdown on New Zealand.

Two years after losing the 50-over World Cup final by the narrowest of margins, New Zealand look to be in great shape heading into the ICC T20I World Cup. The Black Caps have a balanced squad with a great mix of T20I specialists, talented youngsters and experienced campaigners. And with a relatively easy Super 12s group to navigate, they will fancy their chances of making a big splash in the tournament this year.

Recent Form

New Zealand’s most recent series saw them suffer a 3-2 defeat to Bangladesh. But it is worth noting that the majority of their key players were missing from that squad. Before that, they beat Australia 3-2 at home and also earned a 3-0 win at home to Bangladesh. The Kiwis also enjoyed plenty of success in England earlier this year, albeit in a different format. They beat England in a Test series and followed that up by cruising to victory against India in the final of the World Test Championship.

Biggest Strength

New Zealand has a really strong squad, but their biggest strength is arguably their star-studded batting line-up. With Kane Williamson leading the way, a destructive opening pair of Martin Guptill and Tim Seifert, and the classy Devon Conway and Glenn Phillips in the middle order, New Zealand’s batting depth is the envy of many. They also have great versatility and fluidity in their line-up, with nearly every batter capable of playing in whatever role is required.

Biggest Weakness

This New Zealand squad does not have too many weaknesses. But one area where they could probably improve on is their lower-order batting. The likes of Mark Chapman, Jimmy Neesham, Mitchell Santner, Kyle Jamieson and Tim Southee are all capable of producing with the bat, but they seem to lack the consistency and composure to perform in T20I games sometimes.

It has been an amazing 2021 for New Zealand Cricket and they will
undoubtedly go into this tournament as one of the favourites

What the media are saying

New Zealand’s preparations for the T20I World Cup have been slightly marred by the controversy surrounding the events that happened in Pakistan last month. But there is optimism in the country that the Black Caps will be able to deliver a good showing and reach at least the semi finals of the tournament. Not long ago, New Zealand were considered to be the dark horses. But now they are among the favorites, and there is a sense of pressure and expectation from the media that comes with that.

Devon Conway made his New Zealand debut in November 2020 and has already made it to number 5 on the ICC T20 Batting Rankings

Star Player

New Zealand have a quality squad with world class players in nearly every position. And this Star Player tag could go to anyone from Kane Williamson to Martin Guptill to Trent Boult. However, we go with Devon Conway who has been scoring runs for fun since making his international debut last year. He has 1093 runs to his name in just 29 T20 appearances so far this year. And his strike rate of 134.27 makes him the perfect number four to have in the New Zealand batting order. It is truly incredible how easily Conway has adjusted to the rigours of international cricket. And he could be set for another big tournament in the Middle East this month.

Ish Sodhi has been in tremendous form in 2021 taking 20 wickets in just 7 games

Keep an eye on…

Ish Sodhi is having quite an impressive 2021, but his performances have once again gone under the radar. And he will have a very important role to play for New Zealand at the T20I World Cup. The leg break bowler has picked up 17 wickets in just 7 T20Is this year at an average of 12.88. And those wickets have come on the batter friendly pitches in New Zealand. So he will certainly be licking his lips at the prospect of playing in the UAE.

Projected XI

Martin Guptill, Tim Seifert (wk), Kane Williamson (c), Devon Conway, Glenn Phillips, Jimmy Neesham, Mitchell Santner, Kyle Jamieson, Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Ish Sodhi

Prediction

New Zealand are among the favorites to win the 2021 T20I World Cup and will have their sights set on reaching at least the semi-finals. They have a relatively easy group and should fancy their chances of beating Pakistan, Afghanistan and even India provided they can deal with the bowling threat posed by the three nations. The Kiwis ended their ICC trophy drought by winning the World Test Championship this year. And they will now be hungry for more. So don’t be surprised if they are the ones celebrating come November 14.