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World Cup 2023: The Kiwi squad looking for redemption

ICC Cricket World Cup 2023: New Zealand squad complete analysis. Strengths & weakness of New Zealand side in World Cup 2023

ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2022, Group 1, Australia v New Zealand_ New Zealand beat Australia by 89 runs on Group 1 game at T20 World Cup 2022 _ Walking Wicket (Photo_ ©ICC/Twitter)
New Zealand have a very balanced squad (Photo: ©ICC/Twitter)

The Men’s ICC Cricket World Cup 2023, with India as the host nation, will commence on October 5. This edition will be played in the round-robin format - where each team will face the other once in the league stage. After the completion of the league stage, the top four teams in the points table will qualify for the semi-finals.

The New Zealand side has always been considered a dark horse in ICC tournaments. The team might not have won a World Cup win yet, but they are never too far away from winning their first title.

The Kiwis finished as runners-up in both the 2015 and 2019 editions, their best performances till date in the Men’s World Cup. Playing against Australia in the 2015 World Cup final, New Zealand lost by 7 wickets in what many would say was a one-sided final.

England’s win in 2019 against New Zealand was “by the barest of margins” - as the winner of was decided on boundary count, after the teams had tied scores in the match, as well as in the Super Over. Memories of the narrowly missed opportunity still haunt the Kiwis.

But come World Cup 2023, they will be eager to make the wrongs right and take the cup home.

Now let’s talk about the strengths of the New Zealand team which makes them a top contender in the race for World Cup 2023:-

Trent Boult opts out of the central contract with New Zealand Cricket _ Walking Wicket (Source_ ©ICC/Twitter)
Trent Boult will be a key bowler for New Zealand (Source: ©ICC/Twitter)
Well settled, varied and experienced bowling unit

The New Zealand pace and spin attack looks strong and has a settled bowling unit, which is almost the same as the one which played in the 2019 edition - including Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Lockie Ferguson, Matt Henry, Ish Sodhi, Mitchell Santner and James Neesham.

There are a few additions in the team - who can deliver with both ball and bat. The core New Zealand bowling unit is quite experienced when it comes to bowling in Indian conditions, thanks to their rich IPL experience.

Trent Boult, with his lethal swing and pointed yorkers, has scripted a success story in the IPL. Glenn Phillips also provides a decent off-spin option. Daryll Mitchell and Jimmy Neesham give the team a decent right arm medium pace option, alongside Santner, Rachin Ravindra and Mark Chapman. This variety in bowling gives the Kiwis an edge over other teams.

The dependable and hungry for revenge captain cool Williamson still in fray for his last World Cup

The skipper of the New Zealand team - Kane Williamson – is also a part of the Fab Four elite group. He is considered one of the most experienced batters for games in the subcontinent. He also has great attacking shots in his arsenal against spin, which makes him a dangerous customer on Indian pitches and his rich IPL experience in batting as well as leading a side comes in very handy.

He has been a core part of the Kiwi team which has secured a birth in the finals of two successive World Cups, and he also was leading them in the last edition.

So this time, Williamson will seek to avenge the 2019 loss and win the maiden World Cup title for his country in what could very well be the last leg of his career.

A decent looking top batting order with few batters having IPL experience

New Zealand have one of the most decent top six batting order amongst all teams taking part in the 2023 World Cup. They have a few grey patches, but it is nothing which they cannot manage considering their performance in the past two editions of the ODI World Cup.

Kane Williamson and Devon Conway have got rich IPL experience with great numbers in the tournament, which will be a great asset for New Zealand. Also, almost all the all-rounders in the Kiwi side are decent batters as well, which makes for a strong tail.

ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2022, Group 1, Australia v New Zealand_ Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee share six wickets among them against Australia; New Zealand beat Australia _ Walking Wicket (Photo_ ©ICC_Twitter)
Will be interesting to see how NZ use Southee in WC (Photo: ©ICC/Twitter)
Weakness of New Zealand Squad

Injury concern of Kane Williamson

Kane Williamson is one of the most prolific batters in the modern era. Earlier this year, while playing his first match for Gujarat Titans against Chennai Super Kings in the IPL, he got injured rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament which sidelined him from cricket for six months. He has been taking part in the warm up games, and looks to be in good form but he still needs a good amount of game time to perform to the best of his ability in the mega tournament.

Problem of plenty in the bowling unit

Although they have an experienced and varied bowling attack, which every cricketing nation is envious of, New Zealand’s ability to play with their best bowling line-up gets affected by the several options. The team will have to compromise on a few aspects in bowling while choosing the best 11 for any given match in Indian conditions. Despite having several experienced players, some would be forced to warm the bench in any game. The management will have to scratch their heads on the question of going ahead with the best possible bowling attack.

Different team combinations across various bilateral series

New Zealand have played with different team compositions this year across multiple bilateral series. The core playing unit has not played much cricket together - especially with the leader, Williamson, being out of action for a good 6 months or more.

A weak and inexperienced opening pair will pose difficulties in having a steady start

Since Martin Guptill’s departure last year, New Zealand have faced challenges in finding a suitable partner for Devon Conway at the top. In a notable shift, Young, who previously played as a middle-order batter, was elevated to the opening position to partner with Conway. But Young’s inexperience in Indian conditions will weaken the strength of the opening pair, and the pressure of giving a solid start to the team will fall entirely on Conway’s shoulders.

An under tested group of all-rounders

While the batting and bowling unit looks quite decent for New Zealand, it’s the all-rounders which will need to step up in the tournament.

Daryll Mitchell, Jimmy Neesham, and Mitchell Santner are the regular all-rounders for Kiwis, who also have been part of IPL, but they didn’t play regularly for their respective IPL teams.

Mitchell and Neesham have also played against India in the bilateral series but their numbers against the host nation aren’t that promising. Mitchell has only played four matches against India, with just 63 runs coming at an average of 11.2 in four innings and 5 wickets at an average of 19.2 in three innings.

Neesham has scored 197 runs against India in 10 innings at an average of 21.9, and has taken 10 wickets in 12 innings at an average of 51.3. The other all-rounders include Mitchell Santner – who hasn’t troubled the Indians much -13 wickets in 20 innings at an average of 60.7 and 253 runs in 15 innings at an average of 23. Other all-rounders in the team are Glenn Phillips, Rachin Ravindra and Mark Chapman - who provide a spin option but they have not been tested much on Indian pitches.

Failing to capitalize on crucial junctures over the years

The Kiwis, across various World Cups, have always had big players and match winners in the side - like Stephen Fleming, Shane Bond, Daniel Vettori, Brendon McCullum, Williamson, Tim Southee, Trent Boult, etc. However, it can safely be said that they have failed so far in playing as a unit and dominating the opposition at crucial moments.

In this edition of the World Cup too they have experienced players who are match winners in their own right, but it remains to be seen whether these will be enough for winning the World Cup.

Probable playing 11 of New Zealand

Devon Conway, Will Young, Kane Williamson (C), Tom Latham, Glenn Phillips, Daryll Mitchell, Mitchell Santner, Trent Boult, Matt Henry, Ish Sodhi, Lockie Ferguson

New Zealand 2023 World Cup squad: Kane Williamson (C), Trent Boult, Mark Chapman, Devon Conway, Lockie Ferguson, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Daryl Mitchell, Jimmy Neesham, Glenn Phillips, Rachin Ravindra, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Will Young.


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