Having lost 14 of its last 17 ODIs – including a chastening 4-0 reverse in Bangladesh last autumn, New Zealand will enter the World Cup with some trepidation. In previous tournaments, the sum has proved greater than the parts and the Black Caps have done generally well reaching the semi-finals five times. In 2011, they will be relieved if they progress from the group stages where a very tricky encounter with Zimbabwe awaits them.
The Black Caps may lack strength in depth, but they do have some quality players in Vettori, Taylor, Brendon McCullum, Ryder and Oram. If these five perform well and inspire the lesser players in the side to contribute then New Zealand may prove to be the dark horses they have been in previous tournaments.
Vettori apart, the bowling attack is weak and as the warm-up against India showed is susceptible to conceding big totals. The batting too has proved to be brittle and collapses are all too common. Their recent record on the sub-continent does not bode well either.
In his last assignment as captain, old SuperDan himself – Daniel Vettori – will yet again have to perform a passable impersonation of Atlas if the Black Caps are to progress past the quarter-finals.
Look out for…
With plenty of air travel between the games, watch out for more stories about unlikely lothario Tim Southee. Fathers all over the subcontinent will be locking up your daughters in anticipation. Jesse Ryder is also unlikely to emerge unscathed from a six week sojourn without at least one shameful drunken episode.
It wouldn’t come as a huge surprise to The Reverse Sweep if New Zealand made an early exit, but we tip them to scrape past Zimbabwe into a quarter-final with India, where they will be well and truly mullered.
If you like this, follow us on Twitter @thereversesweep