Champions Trophy Preview: New Zealand

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Due to the condensed nature of the format, the New Zealand Champions Trophy outlook is for an intense battle to qualify for the semi-finals. The Black Caps are well known though for being able to fight above their weight and qualify for the knockout stages of ICC tournaments.

Kane Williamson’s men are in Group A, along with hosts England, Australia, who are ranked second in ODI Cricket by the ICC, and Bangladesh, who rejoin the competition at the expense of the West Indies who fell out of the top eight ranked teams they needed to be in to qualify for the tournament.

Two teams from each group will proceed to the semi-final stage, so there is no room for a bad day at the office. As the fourth placed team in ODI cricket, the Black Caps will be targeting the Bangladesh match as the one they are expected to win. Yet, the matches against Australia and England will be the true test as they would need to win at least one of those to progress.

Strengths

New Zealand have explosive batsmen they can call on to dominate any bowling attack. The likes of Martin Guptill, Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor are likely to form the backbone of their batting line-up. To put this into perspective, Guptill averages 43.66 in ODI’s, at a strike rate of 87.61, Williamson 45.9 at 83.78 and Taylor 44.01 at 82.23.

Their bowling attack is bolstered by a number of very impressive quick bowlers. The likes of Trent Boult, Tim Southee and Adam Milne should be a test for most batting line-ups, especially in conditions not too dissimilar to their own home conditions. Boult concedes just about five runs per over he bowls and a decent strike rate of 29.9 balls per wicket. Southee concedes at 5.4 an over with a strike rate of 37.5. Milne’s ODI career is still in its infancy and concedes an average of 7.4 runs per over, with the impressive strike rate of 17.7.

Weaknesses

There are two areas of concern for the Black Caps. In the batting department, they are heavily reliant on the trio of Guptill, Williamson and Taylor. If they happen to lose a few quick wickets early, they will become reliant on a number of bowling all-rounders to help set or chase down a target, so their batting depth is in question.

Their spin bowling resources boast solid bowlers, with Jeetan Patel and Mitchell Santner in the squad. Neither are out and out attacking spinners though, so theu will mostly be used through the middle overs to slow scoring down. The way a team like South Africa use an attacking spinner in the form of Imran Tahir to take wickets and keep the batting team under pressure is an example of the value of a wicket taking spin option.

Key Player

The likes of Kane Williamson and Corey Anderson are likely to attract the most of the popular vote for the title of New Zealand’s key man. The likelihood though is that the form of opening batsman Martin Guptill will be crucial for them. If he gets the Black Caps off to a flyer in either setting a target or chasing one down, they will be difficult to contain.

Likely XI

  1. Martin Guptill
  2. Luke Ronchi (wk)
  3. Kane Williamson (c)
  4. Ross Taylor
  5. Corey Anderson
  6. Jimmy Neesham
  7. Colin de Grandhomme
  8. Mitchell Santner
  9. Tim Southee
  10. Trent Boult
  11. Adam Milne

Can They Win It?

Yes, they can win it. Will they? Probably not. The Champions Trophy format is so condensed that there is no room for error. As alluded to earlier, they will generally be relying on three batsmen for the bulk of their runs. The early loss of important wickets would place immense pressure on their lower-middle order, comprising mostly of bowling all-rounders.

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