New Zealand, often the underdogs in most ICC tournaments, look to have rewritten the pre-tournament script over the last few years. The Blackcaps made the final of the 2019 ODI World Cup, won the 2019–2021 Test Championship Final, and finished as finalists of the 2021 T20I World Cup.
Although New Zealand have enough to boast about, it seems like they are again coming into this tournament as the under-the-radar side. However, they would not mind that because of the success that has come their way because of them having been underestimated.
Here are my top five Kiwi players to watch out for at the upcoming T20I World Cup.
It is hard to argue with the fact that Devon Conway has become the main man for New Zealand across all three formats of the game. The left-hander is versatile and can bat in multiple positions for his side.
Conway has been opening the batting for his side during the ongoing T20I tri-series in New Zealand. He is explosive at the top and can bat through the middle as well, if need be.
Conway had a decent Indian Premier League campaign earlier this year and has been in good nick for his national side as well. New Zealand will be hoping that he brings his form with him into the World Cup.
Wrist spinners and how they are used is a vital question moving into this World Cup in Australia. For New Zealand, as far their wrist-spin options are concerned, Ish Sodhi has been their main man for some time now.
New Zealand are monitoring Sodhi’s performances prior to the World Cup. With Micheal Bracewell and Mithcell Santner being able finger-spin options, Sodhi could be left out of the eleven. Bracewell has been among the wickets off-late and could be ahead of Sodhi in the pecking order.
It will be interesting to see how Sodhi performs if he does get the nod ahead of Santner and Bracewell.
Finn Allen has been in the conversation for being one of the finest young T20 stars for quite some time now. Although he has not yet gotten the opportunity for his IPL franchise, the Royal Challengers Bangalore, he is proving his worth at the international level for New Zealand.
Allen has had a reasonably good tri-series so far and has proved in patches what he can provide to his national side. If he does open alongside Conway at the T20I World Cup, New Zealand will have an exciting opening partnership to look forward to.
The ever-reliable Kane Williamson has proved that he is not just a red-ball specialist but is also equally capable of performing in the game’s shorter formats. Williamson will lead his side into a tournament that the Blackcaps would love to win, particularly because it is being played in Australia.
Williamson’s role, much like always, will be to steady the ship in case an early wicket is lost, but also to score runs at a reasonable pace. He has become a master at finding the boundary through simple cricketing strokes — a facet he will look to bank on to ensure he has a reasonably good tournament.
Regardless of the form this guy is in, it is impossible to make a “player to watch” list without Trent Boult’s name in it. The left-arm swing bowler has made his mark as a bowler who operates in the Powerplay of a T20 game.
Boult can get the ball to swing into the right-handers and away from the left-handers. He was crucial for the Mumbai Indians during the IPL earlier this year. He will most likely perform a similar role for his national side and will be vital as the Kiwis will look to their best bowler to pick up early wickets in games.