World T20 2016 March 14, 2016

New Zealand look to shake off World T20 hoodoo in new era

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O'Brien: Taylor's form will be pivotal to New Zealand's campaign

Big picture

At the 50-over World Cup, New Zealand are often a bridesmaid, never the bride. Seven times they have reached the semi-finals, though not until last year did they win one and gain maid-of-honour status. But at the World T20, not since the first tournament back in 2007 have they so much as passed the group stage. Forget being a bridesmaid, New Zealand go home before the speeches even begin. It is a surprising record for a team like New Zealand, a side that generally boasts a few big hitters, some canny bowlers, and is viewed as a perpetual danger at world events. At least they enter the 2016 World T20 with some sort of form behind them, having won their past two series, against Pakistan and Sri Lanka, albeit in home conditions.

This is also the start of a new era for New Zealand after the retirement of Brendon McCullum last month. He farewelled international cricket in front of a sparse crowd on the fifth day of a Test against Australia in Christchurch. The post-McCullum age begins on Tuesday, half a world away in Nagpur, where Kane Williamson will lead his country in a T20 against India. Not that New Zealand should be unprepared for change. In fact, McCullum had not played a T20 international since June last year, Williamson having led the side to six wins from their past eight matches.

They have batsmen capable of quick scoring - Martin Guptill, Henry Nicholls, Colin Munro, Ross Taylor, Luke Ronchi and Williamson himself. They have all-round talent - Corey Anderson, Grant Elliott, Nathan McCullum, Mitchell Santner. They have quality specialist bowlers - Trent Boult, Tim Southee, Adam Milne, Mitchell McClenaghan, Ish Sodhi. But the challenge is to transfer their recent form to spinning conditions against quality teams - India, Pakistan and Australia - in the group stage. New Zealand are No.4 on the ICC's T20 rankings, and will feel they have something to prove.

At the helm

No one could accuse McCullum of going with the flow as captain. He instilled in his team a distinct ethos and was always trying new tactics on the field. He is a hard act to follow. Williamson might be the best batsman New Zealand will ever produce, but how will he lead? Will we see a less adventurous New Zealand? Will the spirit of the side carry on as if nothing has changed? Williamson has stood in as captain on many occasions, but this is the beginning of his own era. And he is only 25, so it could be a long one.

Key Stat

11

That's the number of wins New Zealand have managed in World T20 matches, from 25 games. Among ICC Full Members, only Zimbabwe and Bangladesh have had fewer victories than New Zealand at the past five tournaments. Incidentally, New Zealand have a remarkable habit of tying T20 matches. There have been nine ties in the history of T20 international cricket, and New Zealand have played in five of them.

Martin Guptill - with the bat - and Kane Williamson - as captain - will play decisive roles in New Zealand's campaign © Getty Images

Leading Men

Martin Guptill

Only McCullum and Tillakaratne Dilshan have scored more T20 international runs than the 1666 Guptill has made. Notably, though, his best work has been done in bilateral series rather than at the World T20, where he has managed only 269 runs at 19.21 and has yet to score a half-century. He has the potential to dominate a tournament like this and at 29 years of age, the time is now to do so. In the absence of McCullum, New Zealand need Guptill to step up.

Grant Elliott

At the World Cup last year, Elliott showed that he can rise to the occasion. When he launched Dale Steyn for a six from the penultimate ball of New Zealand's semi-final chase against South Africa in Auckland, he lifted a giant weight off the collective shoulders of New Zealand cricket. Before that moment they had appeared in six World Cup semi-finals for six losses. How New Zealand would love Elliott to bring his big-moment mentality to the 20-over version as well.

Adam Milne

Trent Boult and Tim Southee might be the big names in New Zealand's attack but in conditions that are unlikely to offer much swing or seam, Milne's pace through the air could be key to New Zealand's hopes of restricting their opponents. A fast bowler who can crack the 150kph mark, Milne also has recent form on his side, as New Zealand's leading T20 international wicket-taker over the last 12 months.

Burning Question

How will New Zealand go without Brendon McCullum?
It is one thing to lose McCullum the captain, quite another to lose McCullum the batsman. McCullum is the all-time leading run scorer in T20 internationals, the only man with 2000 runs in the format, the only man with two centuries. He chose to depart from international cricket in what he called "the purest form of the game", but New Zealand could really have used him in this tournament. Williamson's class will be important to New Zealand's hopes, but there can be no passengers among the rest of the batting order. There will be plenty of pressure on Guptill, Williamson, Taylor and their more junior colleagues to cover for the loss of one of the shortest format's finest exponents.

World T20 history

If New Zealand often perform above themselves at the 50-over World Cup, you would have to say they have underachieved at the World T20. Only once have they progressed past the group stage, and that was at the very first tournament back in 2007, when they lost a semi-final to Pakistan.

In their Own Words

"It's important that we adapt. We've been playing some good T20 cricket but at the same time you want to play smart, and over here cricket can be quite different to our conditions."
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson hopes his side can maintain their good T20 form in different conditions.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @brydoncoverdale

Comments have now been closed for this article

  •   Sunny Pruthi on March 15, 2016, 23:29 GMT

    What a disgraceful show put up by team india today. reminiscent of the 90's era. Why the heck is BCCI not considering Gautam Gambhir in place of Shikhar Dhawan considering he was way more consistent than dhawan even when he was dropped. Why is it so hard to drop Sir legendry Jadeja if his highest score is 25 runs since his debut and scoring 8 runs a match in t20's

  •   Vijay Sista on March 15, 2016, 10:01 GMT

    @SOZ999 - Nz are india's bogey team. India have never beaten NZ in a world t20. Played 4 lost 4 . and i certainly wont think india would prepare a rank turner. this aint a test match.

  • blahblah1234567 on March 15, 2016, 1:56 GMT

    blitznm-- not to sure that India fielding is better than new zeland. new zeland players are more athletic... they set higher fitness standards as you can tell by their physical state. though India have done great fielders but if I had to chose a team to field for my life it wouldn't be india

  • Fast_Track_Bully on March 14, 2016, 15:19 GMT

    Cricket lovers all over the world looking for an Indian win. All the best No.1 T20 team. #bleedblue

  • Comment123 on March 14, 2016, 15:08 GMT

    I will not underestimate NZ any day. With McCullum they had better chance of winning this cup but still they have some enterprising players in Guptill, Munro, Taylor, Ronchi and Williamson. They have good allrounders in Anderson, Elliott, Nathan McCullum, Santner. They have good fast bowlers in Boult, Southee, Milne, McClenaghan. They are good fielding unit any day. I will not surprised if Munro opens with Guptill to make use of the first six overs. Munro hits better than most today.

    It will be an interesting match tomorrow with two strong teams facing. India has an advantage with the home crowd and the ability to face spin better but it will be definitely an interesting match tomorrow.

  • blitzNM on March 14, 2016, 14:27 GMT

    @michael q Todd I do get ur point about NZ fielding being above par but mind you Indian fielding is at par with NZ if not more in limited overs cricket ...especially the close-in fielding. Though I agree NZ has more power hitters than Ind and can be the difference if the pitch is flat

  • blahblah1234567 on March 14, 2016, 14:19 GMT

    I won't be a very happy person if India produces a pitch like Sri Lanka and the same outfield.

  • sampu_sheikh on March 14, 2016, 13:48 GMT

    NZ XI: Guptill, Williamson, Munro, Taylor, Elliott, Anderson, Ronchi, Santner, McCullum, Southee, Boult.... 2 specialist pacers, 2 seam allrounders, 2 spin all rounders. Gives 6 options in all and batting becomes very deep.

  • Iceman29 on March 14, 2016, 13:04 GMT

    Am an Indian fan but I wouldn't give India the favorite tag to win this cup. T20 is so unpredictable. My bets are on Aussies, NZ and SA till Semis. India really have to play out of their skin to beat NZ and Aussies.

  • AmiUtsab on March 14, 2016, 12:10 GMT

    WT20 2016 has already started on a sour note. With crucial washouts and sluggish pitches offering very little excitement. Bangladesh adjusted well and shrugged off any competition by the virtue of playing on pitches which resembled the ones at home. I dare to say, India is going to most likely prepare slow

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