Black caps – as they are called. Also known as Perennial Dark horses to most of the cricket fans. But they always remain a threat! They enter the 2015 Cricket World Cup with their image remaining intact. Historically, New Zealand has done well in the World Cups. They have reached semi-finals on 6 out of a possible 10 occasions (that’s a healthy 60% chance of making it in the final 4), the last one being in 2011 when they lost to co-host Sri Lanka. In fact, they were the only non-Asian team to make it to the semi-finals in 2011. That says a lot about New Zealand and their ability to dig in when it matters the most.
Recent ODI Form – last 12 months *
Form in Australia – last 24 months *
Form in ODI World Cup events *
Out of the total teams I have previewed (5 of them to be precise), New Zealand have lowest win / loss ratio, which is marginally better than Sri Lanka. Also, out of the 17 ODIs played by the Black Caps in the last one year, only 5 of them have been outside New Zealand. Their success ratio is less than 50%, which is also the lowest among these five teams. What's interesting to note is that their batting statistic (Avg. Runs / Wicket, RPO, Highest Lowest Scores) is better than what Aussies have achieved during the same period albeit with better results. This means they have the resources to deliver. They will need their captain (McCullum) and ODI specialists (Williamson and Taylor) to rise above expectation on the biggest stage of them all.
SWOT Analysis –
- Strengths –
- Batsmen best suited to the shorter version of the game
- Strong bowling attack with mixture of pace and spin
- Recent form and momentum leading to the event
- Home conditions
- Weaknesses –
- Unpredictable. Can succumb to better teams
- Although last few months were great, form over past 4 years are worth ignoring
- Opportunities –
- On track to make a mockery of the seeding (Bangladesh above New Zealand)
- Opportunity to reach the knockouts as the 2nd best team in the pool
- “Dark horses” tag will help them go far as expectations will be less
- Threats –
- Relatively stronger pool compared to pool B. 5 teams realistically vying for top 4
- Although they have reached semifinals 6 times, they are yet to win any. Choking, anyone?
- Possible exhaustion, since they have played no less than 8 ODI’s in January (that’s almost 1 ODI every 4 days).
After Australia and South Africa, New Zealand are easily the most balanced side in the tournament. Their batsmen are in top form, their bowlers are delivering the goods and we don’t need to mention how good they are in the fielding department. They have been winning matches off late, most of them in convincing fashion. They also stand to benefit from their pool fixtures. They will start against a strong team followed by a relatively weaker team, then a strong team and so on. This means, even if they lose a game against a strong side, they can more than make up for it against a weak team. You may argue how a fixture can help teams since all the teams in a pool will play each other. I agree. But you’d rather be in the top 4 than the bottom 3 after 4 odd matches. No team will prefer to be in a must-win game to qualify for the knockouts. Form favours them; condition favours them and now fixtures too. This could just be their year!
Like South Africa, they are yet to show the cricketing world their full potential. Both these teams haven’t reached a final of World Cup. Anyone fancying a South Africa v/s New Zealand final? Wouldn’t that balance the statistics somewhat? Wouldn’t it be great if the winner of 2015 World Cup be someone who has won it for the first time?
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* The above statistics have been compiled using http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ for the duration of 1 year or 2 years (based on the statistic) till 31st Jan 2015.