Pakistan in New Zealand 2015-16 January 23, 2016

Hesson happy with how New Zealand's T20 XI is stacking up

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WATCH - Mike Hesson explains NZ's team culture

New Zealand were mindful their recent T20 series wins against Pakistan and Sri Lanka may not mean much for their World T20 campaign in India, but were grateful for having found pieces of their T20 "puzzle", coach Mike Hesson said.

Four victories in those five T20s have lifted New Zealand to fifth on the T20 rankings and, perhaps more significantly, allowed the selectors to zero in on their World T20 squad. Before these recent games, about 17 players had been in the reckoning for that tournament. Hesson said that he and selector Gavin Larsen now have a "clearer" idea of what the final 15-man squad will look like, after "the five dress rehearsals".

"We've got a lot of guys in form," Hesson said. "When you're confident and know your skillset it helps. Most of our top six have had time in the middle. From a bowling point of view, we've been under pressure at times throughout, and we've got better as the series has gone on and come up with better variations. We've set a standard in the field as well, that we'd like to maintain.

"But we also won't get too far ahead of ourselves knowing that the conditions will be very different in India."

One of the strategies trialled this series was Corey Anderson's elevation to No. 4. He had made single-figure scores in two preceding T20s, but came good on Friday, slamming 82 from 42 balls, before later taking 2 wickets for 17 from three overs, having opened the bowling.

"It was another piece of the puzzle wasn't it?" Hesson said of Anderson's innings. "We're very pleased. Corey has worked pretty hard over the last couple of days to get his confidence back. All he needed was to hit a few in the middle and get a bit of time in the middle. We may open the bowling with Corey again, but you can't roll out the same strategy all the time in T20 cricket."

The bowler who returned the figures of the evening was Adam Milne, who claimed three wickets and maintained an economy rate of 2.52 across 3.1 overs. Though not always as miserly, Milne has been penetrative throughout the recent series, taking ten wickets from four outings in all. Mitchell McClenaghan was also cheap on Friday, conceding just 15 from three overs.

"I thought Milne was excellent on Friday," Hesson said. "He did that imposing role that we want him to play. He's a point of difference for us, as is Mitch McClenaghan - they're quite different from our other options. They've got more of an aggressive streak around them, and more variations."

Grant Elliott has also been among the wickets, taking 3 for 7 on Friday, and having picked up six wickets in the three T20s he bowled in prior to that game. New Zealand have stacked the T20 side with "multi-skilled" cricketers, and Elliott is among those giving balance to the XI, alongside the likes of Anderson and Mitchell Santner.

"Elliott has been confident with his variations," Hesson said. "In any conditions, when you give the batsman no pace to work with, that takes out parts of the park they can hit you. He certainly showed excellent control last night, with that."

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando

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  • jared on January 25, 2016, 7:22 GMT

    Sorry fellas I did reply yesterday . Do we need to drop anyone with a squad of 15 to fit Neesham in? I admit finding him a spot in the playing xi is alot tougher with the way others are playing, I can't recall t20 performances like I can tests but what I do remember was otago qualifying for the champions league, I watched it with great interest and what I remember were some tremendous performances from Neesham, his hitting power against some of the best bowlers in the world blew me away, he made it look easy, I'm not sure if he's been able to repeat that for the black caps yet but what I am pretty sure of is that he definitely can, he's showed his class in other formats and I don't think it will be long before that class shows through into the t20 stuff. Hasn't he got Ipl experience too? That would be handy to have as well

  • Beau on January 24, 2016, 20:35 GMT

    @Tobias: Neesham can bowl 140+ and has a test century to his name. I don't think we've seen the last of him by a long shot. He hasn't had much impact in t20i yet, but he certainly has the tools to succeed. I'm just not sure if he's 100% fit or that he fits into this particular squad right now even if fit.

    The spinner thing seems odd, doesn't it? I figure NZ plan to play to their strengths (seam) and hope NMac will be fit. Maybe if he's not, management think it'd be better to drop someone like Astle in cold and hope he can surprise some batsmen who haven't really seen him play yet, let alone faced him. I think Sodhi and NMac will be in the squad.

  • Tobias Gilsenan on January 24, 2016, 10:09 GMT

    Neesh has never been spectacular so forget him, I'm more worried about the fluffing about with our spinners. none get a decent go but none are grabbing the bull by the horns either

  • Stratocaster on January 24, 2016, 7:55 GMT

    @Kiwicricketnut As much as I would love to see Neesh in the squad, who does he replace? Not Anderson, not Munro, not Elliott and not even Santner. Pretty unfortunate time to be injured.

  • Beau on January 24, 2016, 0:53 GMT

    @Kiwicricketnut: I notice that neesh is bowling again in domestic cricket. He must still be considered a black cap incumbent in all three forms I guess, having only lost his spot due to injury? I do wonder how they'll get him in the wt20 squad though. Barring injury, who does he replace?

  • anilkumar on January 23, 2016, 18:53 GMT

    All is going well for blackcaps.keep it up!

  • jared on January 23, 2016, 9:42 GMT

    I still hope that Neesham is part of that 15 man squad, our t20 team is alot stronger with him in it, I do think that the experience mccullum has in that part of the world would have been priceless so not having him puts a big dent in our chances but munro has proved that we have lost no intent or hitting power just lost experience, having Anderson in the top 4 I think is a master stroke and I'd say that elliot is more there for his bowling than his batting so I'd prob play him further down the order or if Williamson fails promote elliot to fill Williamson's role, I like the look of our squad at they moment but I never have high hopes when touring the subcontinent, might be a tough ask to win it but should give some teams a real fright.

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