New Zealand search for elusive trophy
Click here to hear Ian Chappell's take on New Zealand.
Sooner or later New Zealand will add another major piece of silverware to their cabinet, to sit alongside the 2000 ICC Knockout Trophy. There have been plenty of semi-final appearances since then, and they lost the Champions Trophy decider to Australia last year, but there are only so many pats on the back the players can take. They want to hold a big shiny cup. Here's their chance.
Twenty20 is a young game but New Zealand are already veterans in the format, having played more internationals than any other team. Daniel Vettori is in charge of a side that boasts several potential match-winners and in the short, explosive Twenty20 format a few overs of brilliance is enough to turn a game. They also like the slower-paced Caribbean venues, having reached the World Cup semi-finals there in 2007.
A 40-run victory in their opening warm-up match against Ireland was positive way to kick off their trip. Notably, they opened with the offspin of Nathan McCullum, which proved a successful move and could be a useful tactic for a team with good spin options. While that game was a breeze, their second practice match, against West Indies, showed their steel as they defended a sub-par total with verve. The two warm-up victories ensure that they go into the tournament full of confidence.
In their most recent match, Brendon McCullum dazzled with the second international century in the format and showed off his ability to scoop the ball over the wicketkeeper's head off the fast men. New Zealand won the one-over eliminator against Australia, which continued an up-and-down year for them in this format: since the previous World Twenty20 they have won three, lost three and tied one. They were eliminated at the Super Eights stage last year, having made the semi-finals of the inaugural tournament.
Strengths and weaknesses
Like most sides, New Zealand can claim power-hitting at the top of the order, where McCullum, Jesse Ryder and Ross Taylor are the stars. On the slow pitches in the Caribbean, spin could be an important factor and Daniel Vettori will be difficult to get away. The worry is that opposition batsmen might go after their seamers, who with the exception of Shane Bond, lack a bit of venom.
Brendon McCullum's century against Australia was truly a sight to behold, full of scoops and innovation against genuinely quick bowlers. Since the start of 2009 he has averaged 53.72 in Twenty20 internationals and he is the most important player in New Zealand's top order.
Daniel Vettori is usually New Zealand's best bowler and that won't change in the West Indies, where the surfaces are unlikely to offer much assistance to the fast men. Batsmen might be content to see Vettori off with a minimum of risk, so his challenge is to tempt them and win some wickets as well.
McCullum and Taylor are the best of the batsmen but Jesse Ryder is the one with x-factor written all over him. He hasn't quite taken off in Twenty20, averaging in the low 20s, but if he gets hold of a few bowlers he may find the small Caribbean grounds to his liking.
Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo