Bengaluru, May 23: New Zealand are the ultimate underdogs. They always had talented cricketers but never really featured high in anybody's hot list. But every time, they beat the odds to be in the mix for the World Cup knockouts. They have reached the final once in 2015, losing to Trans-Tasman neighbour Australia and would like to go one step ahead four years down the line in England. Can the Kiwis touch the sky this time in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019? MyKhel finds out.
They play as a well-knit unit, often tiding over the absence of a superstar like Virat Kohli in their ranks. It is not to say that New Zealand do not have excellent players. In Ross Taylor, captain Kane Williamson, Martin Guptill, Colin Munro and Henry Nicholls, they have a set of batsmen who can torment the bowlers. The coming back to form by Taylor, who has an average of over 74 so far this season, will be a good news for the Kiwis. The bowlers like Lockie Ferguson, who can push the speed gun quite regularly, experienced Trent Boult and Tim Southee can shine on their day as showed against India at Hamilton recently. They have two good spin options in Ish Sohi and Mitchell Santner.
Their middle-order that will most likely be constituted by Tom Latham, Jimmy Neesham and Colin de Grandhomme has firepower on paper, but it is yet to get translate into on-field performance on a consistent basis. That could put some pressure on the top four to get most of the runs and a bad day can really topple them like it happened in 2015, when their only defeat in the tournament came in the final.
3. Key Man 1: Ross Taylor
The 35-year-old had gone through some turmoil with the bat but came back strong in 2018 scoring at an average of 91.28 and he has averaged 74.12 this season. He can take apart any bowling unit on his day and NZ will be hoping that those days come often in England. He is the most experienced batsman in Kiwis ranks and has never really shied away from taking responsibility to suit his years on the circuit too.
4. Key Man 2: Trent Boult
The left-arm pacer has developed into a fine craftsman over the years and he still has the ability to touch early to middle 140 kmph. Of course, England so far have offered no signal that swing will play a massive role and the pitches looked quite barren too. But Boult can make an impact on any kind of surface and if the swing reappears then he can be doubly dangerous.
New Zealand have the potential to reach the semifinals. With the right mix of experience and youth, the Kiwis can come up with a few good efforts. And you can write them off but only with personal risk claim.