In just under two months’ time, the much anticipated 2016 ICC World Twenty20 gets underway in India. It is sure to be a roaring success, with crowds flocking to witness the shortest format of the game, so popularised in the country in recent years through the Indian Premier League.
With the tournament venue on the subcontinent, the favourites will feature those accustomed to the spin-friendly conditions. Hosts, India, will shoulder a lot of expectation while Sri Lanka and Pakistan will be extremely comfortable in their surroundings. In addition, the form of Australia across all formats means they are likely to carry a lot of confidence into the tournament.
However, relative outside bets New Zealand are a formidable one-day outfit and will be extremely difficult to beat come World Cup time.
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Despite experiencing a setback in losing to Pakistan in the first match of their T20 series, the Black Caps annihilated Sri Lanka in their previous match, showing their true potential in this form of the game.
In pursuit of 142, Martin Guptill continued his superb recent form with 63 off 25 balls, while Colin Munro was given a chance up the order and smashed an unbeaten 50 from just 14 balls including seven maximums.
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The balance of the side looks second to none, with the hard-hitting Guptill and Munro bordered by the classy technical skills of in-form duo Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor.
There is more raw power to come in the middle order with Corey Anderson and Luke Ronchi while young all-rounder Mitchell Santner is an excellent ball-striker at number eight.
In the bowling department, the options are copious for Coach Mike Hesson. The likely opening pair will be Tim Southee and Trent Boult, a feared partnership around the world in all formats.
Competition for the third seamer’s spot is likely to be fierce between the tall and aggressive Mitchell McClenaghan and the outright pace of Adam Milne. Whoever is picked in that role will always be looking to prove themselves and will provide a more direct option for skipper Williamson than the craftiness provided by Boult and Southee.
With the competition taking place on the subcontinent, spin bowling is likely to play an important role. This may be one slight area of concern for New Zealand as young Mitchell Santner’s left arm spin is relatively unproven in the international arena.
However, if the Northern Districts man can contribute with steady figures throughout the tournament, the seam bowling department should be sufficient to claim the bulk of the opposition’s wickets.
A much-improved performance in the next t20 against Pakistan saw them runaway victorious by 10 wickets and it is imperative for this youthful New Zealand side to continue to build confidence before this marquee event.
However, if the side remains injury free, the bowling department possess’ variety and skill, while the batting line-up consists of a perfect blend of dynamism and subtlety.
Expect the Black Caps to be reaching the later stages of this tournament and potentially even going all the way to victory.