The Blackcaps have demonstrated that they were never the underdogs that they are typically known as in the modern cricket world.

So is this an assumption or is there a modicum of truth to this?

Since the 2015 Cricket World Cup, the Blackcaps have consistently outperformed the top contenders in any ICC event. So, what makes them the underdogs? Maybe it’s because they only have one or two ICC trophies, or maybe people are busy reminiscing about the teams that have dominated the cricket world, such as Australia, India, and England.

New Zealand faced the hosts, Australia, in the opening match of the T20 World Cup 2022. The Blackcaps completely outclassed the mighty Australian team, scoring 200 in the first innings and rendering the hosts’ chase impossible. Devon Conway batted beautifully, and the other batters contributed enough to frighten the Australian bowlers. Not to forget the Kiwi speedsters, who demolished the hosts’ batting line-up to win by a massive 89-run margin.

Not only this time, but Kane and the team have demonstrated their character on numerous occasions, including the 2015 World Cup, the 2016 T20 World Cup, the dramatic 2019 World Cup, and their victory over India in the World Test Championship 2021.

Cricket has never been kind to the New Zealand team. Even the super-over was a draw in the 2019 World Cup final between hosts England and so-called underdogs New Zealand, and England eventually became the champions based on the boundary count. In the end, Kane Williamson and company did what they do best: they walked off the field smiling.

The Kiwis, this time, will not walk away like that again because they are here to complete what was left unfinished in last year’s final against the Aussies. Before entering the tournament, New Zealand hosted a tri-series featuring Pakistan and Bangladesh. The men in green dominated the series and defeated the Kiwis in the final. Everyone expected Pakistan to be the dark horse, but Kane and his men are the ones, who will cause problems for all of the competing teams. They have everything a championship-calibre team needs, whether it’s batting, bowling, or fielding. They have players who are proficient in all three aspects of the game.

A well-settled batting line-up

If Martin Guptill is on the bench, there must be something about Finn Allen and Devon Conway. What do you have to say about Devon Conway? A batter who scored 200 on his test debut and also scored 92 runs in 58 deliveries against the hosts in the T20 World Cup opener. The left-hander can hit shots to all parts of the ground and knows how to play the field. He is not the type to smash the white kookaburra with force, but rather he is the one who times the ball elegantly to the fences. Then there’s Finn Allen, who enjoys smashing the ball from the first delivery. He understands how to use the powerplay, as evidenced by his 16-ball 42 against the likes of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, and Pat Cummins.

Looking at their bench strength, Williamson’s resources aren’t dry. With all of his experience, Kane is the one who consistently scores big in high-pressure games. Not to forget Glenn Phillips, James Neesham, and Mark Chapman in the middle order. All of these players have the ability to hit the ball out of the park.

The strength of the Kiwis- Bowling line-up

Trent Boult is known for throwing firebolts at batters, especially the swinging ones. When it comes to swinging the ball both ways, Tim Southee knows how to deliver them beautifully. With these two swing bowlers and Trent Boult’s advantage as a left-arm seamer, New Zealand appears to have the best pace and swing battery. When it comes to pace, Lockie Ferguson is one of the bowlers who can consistently bowl at or above 145 kmph, which is essential for bowlers in Australia’s massive grounds.

Mitchell Santner, the left-arm spinner, and Ish Sodhi, who turns the ball with his wrist, make for a very well-balanced bowling attack. Santner has the ability to keep batters quiet in the PowerPlays and also can be a wickettaker. Meanwhile, Sodhi is a slow bowler who excels at playing the googly card. Santner, James Neesham, and Mark Chapman are all capable batters as well as bowlers. In high-pressure games, a team needs a lower order that can play shots and score a few runs, and these are the ones who are always ready to deliver.

Exceptional Fielding

“Catches win matches,” have you ever heard this phrase? A player may have a bad day as a batter or bowler, but if he can take a couple of catches and save three or more runs, he can be a huge help to his team. In their most recent match against Australia, the Kiwis took some spectacular catches that stunned not only the Aussies but also the spectators.

Glenn Phillips made a sensational catch to get rid of Marcus Stoinis. He seemed to be flying like a man with a robe on his back. Not only Glenn but also his teammates Santner and Southee took a couple of outstanding catches.

With all of these advantages, one reckons the Blackcaps are way ahead in the competition than most teams. Therefore, one’s well informed to not consider them as ‘underdogs.’

Not a wise thing to say at all.


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