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New Zealand look at ease in the post-McCullum era

New Zealand, Kane Willliamson, World T20
New Zealand are on course to lift their first world trophy. Form would indicate a final against the West Indies but it is more likely to be a repeat of the tournament opener, New Zealand vs India

 

The odds on New Zealand being the first side to qualify for the semi-finals of the World T20 tournament were astronomical. Yet with three successive victories – against India, Australia and Pakistan – New Zealand have brushed aside their strongest competitors with consummate ease and are now favourites to win the title. And they have done all this without one of the best T20 cricketers ever in Brendon McCullum, who retired from international cricket just before the tournament started.

It’s also amazing to think that New Zealand have qualified for the semis without the services of Trent Boult and Tim Southee, two of the world’s premier fast bowlers, with Adam Milne and then Mitchell Mcclenaghan the preferred pacers. Boult and Southee are likely to feature in the final group game against Bangladesh but currently it looks like their contribution to New Zealand’s WT20 chances will end there.

The Kiwi spinners have been excellent. They started with three – Nathan McCullum, Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi – against India and then played just Santner and Sodhi against the Aussies and Pakistan. All-rounder Santner has been one of the players of the tournament so far and Sodhi is consistently demonstrating why he is so highly rated.

What is surprising is that New Zealand have been excellent with the bat as well. And no, Kane Williamson hasn’t been scoring all the runs. It has been Martin Guptill providing blistering starts for the Kiwis which Corey Anderson and to a certain extent Grant Elliot have capitalised on. Guptill’s performance in India makes it even more shocking that he went unpicked during the Indian Premier League auction.

Leading up to the World T20 there was a lot of pressure on Williamson, who took over captaincy reigns from the revered Brendon McCullum. His tactical acumen has been excellent, and has shown uncanny maturity in dealing with crunch situations, particularly when the chips were down versus Pakistan.

New Zealand are on course to lift their first world trophy. Form would indicate a final against the West Indies but it is more likely to be a repeat of the tournament opener, New Zealand vs India

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