The new world Test champions have officially made their mark in the longest form of the game. For making a mark in the shortest format they have announced a 15-member squad with an extra injury cover for the T20 World Cup which will be held in UAE. Their 15-members squad consists of a mix of experience and young talent. It is led by the maestro Kane Williamson and consists of players like Todd Astle, Boult, Mark Chapman, Devon Conway, Lockie Ferguson, Martin Guptill, Kyle Jamieson, Daryl Mitchell, Neesham, Glenn Phillips, Santner, Tim Seifert – the wicketkeeper, Ish Sodhi, Southee and Adam Milne who is the injury cover player.

New Zealand is currently 4th in the ICC T20 rankings. They have had a bad series against Bangladesh recently where they lost 3-2. But, in ICC tournaments, New Zealand has performed pretty well in recent years. In the last 10 years in ICC T20 tournaments, the Kiwis have won seven, lost five, and tied two matches. New Zealand finished as table toppers in the last edition but ultimately fell to England in the semis. This year New Zealand looks as sharp as before and has been the most consistent team in ICC tournaments for years. The squad consists of some interesting selections and if they perform to their potential, it can work wonders for the Kiwis.

X-factors: Jimmy Neesham and Devon Conway
Two players stand out in this 15-member squad of New Zealand. Jimmy Neesham and Devon Conway on their respective days can win matches for their teams on their own. Neesham is handy with both bat and ball and has been an important part of this New Zealand T20 squad for years. Neesham played pretty well for New Zealand in the ICC 50 over World Cup and was an important part of their success in that tournament. Neesham has also performed well in the short format of the game as he has been the team’s all-rounder for years and has contributed with both bat and ball. He has played 29 T20I matches and scored 329 runs with an astonishing strike rate of 157.28. He has also picked up 18 wickets. The fact which makes him the X-factor in this squad is his performances in the ICC tournaments where he has been a true match-winner in big games.

On the other hand, Conway has made his mark in his short career and has already won a lot of matches for New Zealand opening the batting. Conway did make a mark with his Test double hundred on his debut, but he is more than a capable T20 batsman. He is a clean striker of the ball and alongside Guptill can provide blistering starts for the Kiwis in the T20 World Cup in UAE. The statistics of his performances in domestic and international T20 tournaments speak volumes about his ability and skills as a T20 batsman.

Inclusion of three spinners: Helpful in UAE
The Kiwis struggled in their recent defeat against Bangladesh due to the slowness of the pitches in Bangladesh. The pitches in UAE are kind of the same and are on the slower side. With the T20 World Cup being a long tournament, the pitches will be used multiple times and will assist the spinners throughout the tournament. Other factors like the big dimensions of the grounds also benefit the spinners and with the inclusion of three spinners in their squad they have a good chance of winning matches on most of the pitches.

The spinners chosen are Todd Astle, Santner, and Sodhi. Santner and Sodhi are one of the most successful spinners for the Kiwis, but the selection of Astle came as a bit of a surprise as he hasn’t been up to the mark in the four matches, he has played in the international level with an economy rate of 8.19. But, both Santner and Sodhi will be very useful on the pitches of UAE and can be the trump cards for this New Zealand side.

Exclusion of experienced players
The two big names of Ross Taylor and Colin De Grandhomme were missing from this New Zealand squad. It came as a shock for most of the people as both these players have been an integral part of this New Zealand side for years. They have been consistent over the years. Their overall stats suggest that their exclusion will cost this New Zealand side big time and their presence would have added a lot of experience to this young Kiwi side along with the likes of Williamson and Guptill.

Both these players are aging and they are going through a rough patch with the bat in hand. Young players like Philips, Chapman, Jamieson have the upper hand, which has resulted in the exclusion of these two veteran players. Hopefully, it is not a blunder of a selection by keeping out their two experienced players in such a big tournament.

Fierce Pace Attack
In this format of the game, Southee, Boult, Ferguson, and Jamieson are among the best in the world. The pace attack consists of various factors like experience, skill, pace, etc. They have variety and are lethal both at the start and end of the innings. Southee and Boult with their experience and skills are a valuable part of this New Zealand team. Also, Ferguson and Jamieson are two ferocious pace bowlers who can pick up wickets at regular intervals. Adam Milne, the injury cover, has also been in great form and performed well in the recently concluded tournament the Hundred. Overall, this Kiwi pace attack is an important part and they need to perform well for New Zealand to win this World Cup.

All of these four pace bowlers have a knack for picking up wickets. They all except Jamieson who has played only 4 matches have bowled at a decent economic rate. When they’re on their top game, the bowlers look like a formidable attack that can clean up any side. Also, they have a lot of ability and as a unit, they can win matches for this New Zealand team.

Key points
In ICC tournaments like this, Kiwis are also known as chokers or underdogs, but with this 15-member squad, they are more than underdogs and could finish as the top team. They have gone with three spinners which is a calculated risk but still, the players need to perform to make the team win the match. Their exclusions of Ross Taylor and De Grandhomme might cost them in such a pressure tournament, but the youngsters are in great form and have the same kind of skill-sets and ability as those they have replaced in the squad. Their X-factor players need to perform well for them to win this tournament alongside their bowling line-up which looks great on paper. Last but not least, their captain is one of the best batsmen and captains in the world, and they have a strong chance of winning this tournament in the UAE.

Probable Playing XI: Guptill, Conway, Williamson, Phillips, Tim Seifert, Neesham, Santner, Sodhi, Southee, Boult, Jamieson/Ferguson.