Can the Black Caps cross the knockout hurdle?




Only one team have progressed beyond the first stage in the last six World Cups since 1992 – New Zealand. Yet the Kiwis haven’t ever reached the final of the World Cup so far. In fact, they have won only one of their six knockout games since then, and that against South Africa, who themselves have never won a knockout game in the tournament’s history.

Can the Black Caps cross the knockout hurdle?

Can the Black Caps cross the knockout hurdle?

They had their best chance when the Oceania region hosted the World Cup back in 1992, but were thwarted in the semis by an young Inzamam-ul-Haq. This time, though, New Zealand have probably selected their strongest ever squad for a World Cup, and in home conditions, have a fair chance of going all the way. Led by an inspiring skipper in McCullum, New Zealand have been dominant over the past one year and will enter in to the tournament as one of the favorites along with South Africa and co-hosts, Australia.

In a long tournament like the World Cup, the depth of the squad is pivotal and that is something that the Kiwis have taken precaution with. With McCullum returning to top of the order, the Kiwis will look to score quickly during the mandatory PowerPlay with Guptill being the stable partner at the other end.

Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor are having a dream year so far, and will be the backbone of the Kiwi batting order. Grant Elliot was selected over Jimmy Neesham, and will come in at #5, while Corey Anderson and Luke Ronchi will look to provide the fireworks in the slog overs. If anything, it was the lower middle order that could have been seen as New Zealand’s weakness but Grant Elliot and Ronchi’s record partnership a couple of weeks back against Sri Lanka showed the depth in the Kiwis batting line-up.

While it will be a tossup between Daniel Vettori and Nathan McCullum for the spinner’s slot, the pace bowling department looks very much composed and settled. Southee has slowly transformed into the bowler he once had the potential to be, while no bowler has taken more ODI wickets than Mitchell McClenaghan since 2013. Adam Milne brings raw pace and a new dimension to the attack while Boult and Mills will play the supporting bowler’s role. The presence of Shane Bond in the backroom will definitely be a big plus for the bowlers.

While the Kiwis definitely have the ammunition and home advantage to go all the way, it is the hurdle of crossing a knockout round that hounds them. This is where the experience of McCullum, Bond and the rest of the team management are vital.

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Monish Menon

Author:

Hi, I am Monish Menon from Hyderabad and currently working at Franklin Templeton Investments as a Compliance Business Analyst. Sport has always been my passion since I was a kid and I invest all my non-existent free time by watching, playing, writing and analyzing various sporting events across the world. Apart from being a diehard Manchester United fan and a Ferrari supporter, I believe that Roger Federer is still the best tennis player and Sachin Tendulkar is God. I play club cricket and I also am a part of my organization’s cricket and football squad. Being such a sports fanatic, writing about it is something that came naturally to me and I am glad that I got an opportunity through thesportsmirror.com to share my thoughts with the rest of the world. For other articles written by me, you can visit my blog at www.monishmenon.wordpress.com

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