The stage is set for the year’s biggest cricket extravaganza; all the teams have buckled up and looking ready to take the game to the next level in ICC World Twenty20 2016. This World T20 is probably the most open tournament as there are no clear favourites this time and any side can pick the silverware if they keep the momentum going. On 15th March 2016, India will take on New Zealand in the opening game of Super 10. As the ball gets rolling, it is expected that the mega event will provide us numerous shock-and-awe moments.
New Zealand is different side now and is no more the underdogs of the game. Since, their 2015 World Cup campaign, the Kiwis have emerged as a top quality side who can spoil the party of any side on any given day. Thus, India will not make a mistake of taking them lightly in the Super 10 opener.
Since their arrival on Indian soil, Kiwis has played two warm-up games against Sri Lanka and England. Both matches were played on good batting tracks of Wankhede, Mumbai, NZ won the first and lost the second. But, Kiwis wasted no time in getting into the T20 mode and posted big totals in both their matches.
Post-McCullum era, a lot has been expected from New Zealand side to carry forward the legacy of their ex-skipper and an aggressive hitter of the cricket ball. Brendon retired after scoring the fastest century in his 101st test match against Australia. He was a trendsetter in the game and has contributed immensely to changing NZ’s approach in all forms of international cricket. On papers, New Zealand looked a formidable T20 side, they have batsmen who can whack the ball to all parts of the ground like – Martin Guptill, Henry Nicholls, Colin Munro, Ross Taylor, Luke Ronchi and skipper Williamson himself. They also have good all-round talent in the form of – Corey Anderson, Grant Elliott, Nathan McCullum, Mitchell Santner. In the bowling department, they have World No.1 ODI bowler Trent Boult, experienced Tim Southee, Adam Milne, Mitchell McClenaghan, Ish Sodhi who can demolish any batting side.
This fact will give Kiwis more motivation that they have not lost a single Twenty20 match against the hosts, India. This makes New Zealand the only Test playing nation who has not lost a match to a team that has won ICC World Cup and ICC World Twenty20. But in Indian conditions, spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja and the part-time spinners Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina will pose a lot of questions from the NZ’s heavy-duty batting attack. Mitchell Santner, an all-rounder quoted after the warm-up game against England which NZ lost: “Maybe we have to play spin a little bit better. I think it will change depending on where you are. Mumbai, there’s a bit of grass on the wicket and it showed a bit of swing. You go to Nagpur and it’s probably going to spin. You have got to adapt quickly when you see the surface at different grounds and go from there.”
The youngster also talked about NZ’s plan post-McCullum retirement, “McCullum obviously was an aggressive player, but we have got a well-balanced side and everyone has that aggressive nature and can kind of follow in his footsteps. We’ve got a reasonably balanced side in all aspects and that is the nature of our game to play aggressive and I think that will continue through the tournament.”
Since January 2015, New Zealand has played 9 Twenty20 matches and has won six out of them and lost three (against England, South Africa and Pakistan). With this sort of aggressive and attacking approach, New Zealand can raise the bar of entertainment index in the tournament and has the ability to go the distance. For that, New Zealand has to play the ‘BAZ’ way.