New Zealand have named a strong 14-member squad to face India in the T20I series which commences from January 24.
We identify the strengths of the home team and what makes them a formidable and dangerous unit in T20I cricket.
A DEVASTATING OPENING PARTNERSHIP
Martin Guptill is the third-highest scorer in T20I cricket history after Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma. He has an aggregate of 2436 runs in 80 innings at an average of 33.36 and strike rate of 134.58 including 2 hundreds and 15 fifties.
Guptill scores big runs at the top of the order at a very high strike rate for New Zealand – this makes his performances crucial for his team’s success. Not surprisingly, 12 of the 17 times he has scored 50-plus, New Zealand has been victorious.
He has been exceptionally explosive and struck at 151.31 since 2018.
Guptill was the second-highest scorer of the recently concluded Super Smash (New Zealand’s Domestic T20 Tournament) aggregating 403 runs in just 10 innings at a strike rate of 142.4.
Colin Munro is one of the most dangerous batsmen in contemporary T20I cricket. His strike rate of 160.04 is the highest in this format’s history (min. 700 runs). He has recorded three hundreds in T20I cricket – the joint second-highest with Glenn Maxwell and only behind Rohit Sharma (4). All his three hundreds have come within 60 deliveries – the fastest being in 47 against the West Indies at Mount Maunganui in 2018. The left-hander had also smashed a 54-ball ton against India in Rajkot in 2017.
Overall, Munro has scored 1546 runs in 57 innings at an average of 30.92.
He is exceptionally dangerous in the powerplay where since 2018 he has a phenomenal strike rate of 174.26!
The Guptill-Munro opening partnership is one of the most devastating in T20I cricket history – their average partnership run rate (min. 400 runs) is the fifth-best of all time.
MIDDLE-ORDER: A MIX OF EXPERIENCE AND NEW TALENT
Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor will provide the backbone of the batting unit in the middle order. Williamson has played within himself and anchored the innings in T20I cricket for New Zealand – this explains his modest strike rate of 121.76. He has a good average of 31.35 and has registered 20 30-plus knocks in 55 innings.
Williamson was the highest scorer in the 2018 IPL with 735 runs in 17 matches at an average of 52.5 and strike rate of 142.44. He led Sunrisers Hyderabad to the final before losing to Chennai Super Kings.
Like Williamson, Taylor does not boast of a great T20I record for New Zealand (unlike his numbers in ODIs) – he has scored 1743 runs in 87 innings at an average of 25.63 and strike rate of 121.88. But, there has been a significant improvement, both, in his run-scoring and strike rate in the last couple of years – his average has gone up to 31.13 and strike rate has also marginally increased to 125.87 since 2018.
Overall in New Zealand’s domestic T20 competition, Taylor has scored 1206 runs in 30 matches at an average of 50.25 and strike rate of 173.02.
Tom Bruce is a hard hitting top-order batsman who made his debut against Bangladesh in 2017 after smashing a couple of brilliant knocks in the Super Smash 2016-17 – he hammered 74 off 41 deliveries against Wellington and an unbeaten 61 off 29 against Otago. He has an impressive strike rate of 144.54 in all T20 cricket.
A DANGEROUS SET OF ALL-ROUNDERS
Colin de Grandhomme has a strike rate of 149.22 in T20I cricket and 162.34 in all T20 cricket. He has an uncanny ability to clear the ropes as his 29 sixes in 31 innings indicate – this makes him a dangerous lower-order batsman in the format.
Daryl Mitchell has just played 9 T20I matches but has the experience of 80 matches overall in the format. His batting average of 31.2 and bowling average of 23.21 makes him a genuine all-rounder in T20 cricket.
Tim Seifert is the wicket-keeper in the squad and a top-order batsman who has scored 1501 runs in 69 T20 matches at a decent average of 24.2 and strike rate of 136.82. He was in fine form in the Super Smash, 2019-20 scoring 323 runs in 8 innings at an average of 40.37 and strike rate of 143.55.
Scott Kuggeleijn is a bowling all-rounder who has picked 81 wickets in 91 innings in all T20 cricket.
VARIETY AND DEPTH IN BOWLING UNIT
Mitchell Santner has picked 49 wickets in 38 T20Is at an economy rate of just 7.2 in his career. His strike rate of 14.5 since 2018 is the fourth-best amongst all spinners from major T20 playing nations (min. 15 wickets).
Santner is also a very effective lower-order batsman. He has a strike rate of 135.29 with the bat in T20I cricket since 1st January, 2018.
Tim Southee is the highest wicket-taker for New Zealand in T20I cricket with 75 scalps in 64 innings at 26.05 apiece. Overall, in all T20 cricket, he has picked 192 wickets in 176 innings at a strike rate of 20.
Ish Sodhi, the leg-spinner is another attacking option in the home team’s bowling arsenal. He has picked 47 wickets in 39 T20I appearances at a strike rate of 17.6. He picked 10 wickets in the Super Smash in as many matches and was quite restrictive giving away just 7.57 runs per over.
Hamish Bennett, a right-arm medium-fast bowler, is yet to play a T20I for New Zealand after having made his international debut more than 9 years ago – against India in a Test match at Ahmedabad in 2010 – which turned out to be the only Test he has played in his career. He has also represented his country in 16 ODIs.
Bennett is the highest wicket-taker of the Super Smash, 2019-20 with 17 wickets from 11 matches at an average of 17.17 and strike rate of 14.2. He was instrumental in Wellington’s victory in the tournament.
Blair Tickner is another talent with the ball for New Zealand who made his debut in the format against India in Hamilton in 2019. He stands out for his wicket-taking prowess as his overall T20 record indicates – he has picked 65 wickets in just 41 innings at a strike rate of 13.7.