The team that exudes poise and elegance, perhaps more than any other cricket playing nation, is undoubtedly New Zealand. Popularly called White Ferns, the New Zealanders, ranked number three in ICC T20I rankings is a team to look forward to.
It was a decade back that the White Ferns were closest to becoming World T20 champions. Losing to England and Australia in 2009 and 2010 respectively in the finals, NZ had to settle for the runners-up.
As the World T20 comes to Australia this time, NZ would fancy their chances of bringing home the championship, as they would be familiar with the conditions Down Under that are somewhat similar to theirs.
The 15-member New Zealand squad that will be playing World T20 is as follows: Sophie Devine (captain), Suzie Bates, Lauren Down, Maddy Green, Holly Huddleston, Hayley Jensen, Leigh Kasperek, Amelia Kerr, Jess Kerr, Rosemary Mair, Katey Martin, Katie Perkins, Anna Peterson, Rachel Priest, Lea Tahuhu
One of the biggest strengths that New Zealand possesses over its counterparts is that it has in its ranks Suzie Bates, who is the highest run-getter with 881 runs in the six editions of World T20. Bates, 32, averages more than 30 and strikes at a rate of 112.06. She is the one who knows how to pace her innings well and can change gears as and when required. Giving her company is the skipper Sophie Devine, who leads by example, also averaging 30+ and has the reputation of striking the cricket ball as clean as a whistle.
In the bowling department, Lea Tahuhu will be the leader of the pack. Over 50 T20Is, Tahuhu is an experienced right arm medium fast bowler and is known to wreak havoc with the ball. Holly Huddleston and Hayley Jensen will be her able allies. The spinning trio of Anna Peterson, Leigh Kasperek, and Amelia Kerr will look to tighten up things from the other end.
From the fielding perspective, the White Ferns are a disciplined bunch of girls, who refuse to give away anything on the field.
The batting looks overly dependent on Suzie Bates and Sophie Devine. If either of them fails, the White Ferns could possibly land in serious trouble. Senior players like Katey Martin and Rachel Priest will be required to rise up to the occasion and shoulder the responsibility whenever the team needs.
Moreover, New Zealand will possibly miss an all-rounder in their side. Though they have the likes of Leigh Kasperek and Anna Peterson in their ranks, there is seldom any evidence of any one of them taking the game away from the opposition single-handedly. It is important to strike a balance between an “all-rounder” and “a player who is a bit of this and a bit of that but neither of either.”
From the fielding standpoint, there seem to be no specific lacunae that the team needs to address. It will be interesting to see how they play as a unit on the field and possibly comment on their weaknesses as the tournament progresses.
I am a former cricketer having represented Mumbai University at All India University level. I was a part of MCA probables for the U-19 and U-23 age group. I have been an avid cricket writer for the last five years. Currently I am pursuing my Ph.D from IIT Bombay.