CWC 2019: Team Review – New Zealand, so near yet so far

There were at least five occasions in the World Cup final which could have resulted in New Zealand lifting the glorious trophy but it was not to be. Hard done by the umpires, hard done by the rules and hard done by the destiny, the Blackcaps will have to wait for another four years to have a shot at their maiden World Championship.

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However, New Zealand did not return empty-handed. They received tremendous goodwill and support from fans all over the world for their spirited performances in the knockout games. Captain Kane Williamson handled every situation gracefully and also pocketed the Player of the Tournament award. However, at one point in time, the World Cup final was far away from New Zealand.

What went wrong?

One issue that kept plaguing the Blackcaps throughout the tournament was their batting consistency. Williamson was the stand-out performer with 578 runs in just nine innings. The second-highest run-getter from the side, Ross Taylor, scored only 350 runs. Opener Martin Guptill was sensational in the field but failed with the bat (186 runs in 10 innings). Colin Munro and Tom Latham also disappointed with poor returns.

What went right?

While Williamson single-handedly lifted the batting performance, New Zealand found plenty of heroes in the bowling department. The trio of Lockie Ferguson, Trent Boult and Matt Henry ensured early wickets and pushed opposition on the backfoot. While Boult troubled with lateral movement, Ferguson unleashed his express pace. Henry made most of the conditions and his spell against India in the semi-final turned the match in New Zealand’s favour.

Find of the tournament

New Zealand missed their stalwart Tim Southee for the first few matches due to an injury. Henry walked into the playing XI to take Southee’s place. He earned the Player of the Match award in the first game itself with his spell of 3/29 against Sri Lanka. He followed this with 4/47 versus Bangladesh. His best was reserved for the semi-final where he snared KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma and Dinesh Karthik. Henry was named Player of the Match for this performance against India. The bowler finished with 14 wickets in nine matches.

Areas for improvement

Blackcaps need to sort their top order issues. They will need to look beyond Guptill and Munro. The younger generation of batsmen needs to step up and take their places in the current setup. Currently, the team is heavily dependent on Williamson and Taylor. Once their form wanes, the Blackcaps may find themselves on a losing spree.