ICC Champions Trophy Team Preview - New Zealand pin hopes on all-round strength

New Zealand have the right combination to win the tournament

New Zealand have the right combination to win the tournament
©REUTERS

A combination of power hitters, ruthless swing bowlers and the solidity of Kane Williamson makes New Zealand one of the top contenders in the upcoming Champions Trophy tournament.

The Black Caps had the ideal preparation to the tournament having played a tri-series in Dublin which involved Bangladesh - one of their group member in the tournament and also Ireland. The conditions in Ireland are expected to be similar on what is likely to be available for the Champions Trophy in England and Wales.

However, they were without a number of key players in Williamson, Martin Guptill and pace trio of Mitchell McClenaghan, Tim Southee and Trent Boult, who were busy with their commitments in the Indian Premier League. Ross Taylor's return from a eye surgery has been a big boost to the side after the veteran slammed three fifties from four games in the tri-series while the squad also has a wide variety of all-rounders in Corey Anderson, Colin de Grandhomme, James Neesham and Mitchell Santner.

Can Mitchell McClenaghan transform his IPL form for New Zealand?

Can Mitchell McClenaghan transform his IPL form for New Zealand?
©REUTERS

Tom Latham was impressive as both batsmen and captain during the tri-series and the team management can even opt for his wicket-keeping over Luke Ronchi, if they are to accommodate an extra batsman leaving them all bases covered. McClenaghan has been a top performer for Indian Premier League title winning Mumbai Indians team this season while Southee and Boult can be more than handy in English conditions that are expected to aid swing bowlers and they also have Adam Milne in their ranks to bolster the pace attack.

Jeetan Patel's stint with Warwickshire and his recent track record against attacking batsmen like Quinton de Kock will keep him in good stead while Santner will provide them the variety of left-arm-spin.

Performances In Past Editions:

Kyle Mills is the leading wicket taker in the history of Champions Trophy tournaments

Kyle Mills is the leading wicket taker in the history of Champions Trophy tournaments
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New Zealand's only success in the tournament has come way back in 2000 in Kenya when they defeated India in the final by four wickets and till date it remains their only triumph in an ICC event. Even though, they reached the semi-final and final in 2006 and 2009 respectively, they could not quite cross the line.

Overall, New Zealand have the third best win % among all the teams in the history of the tournament having registered 12 wins from 20 games.

Player To Watch Out For:

Ross Taylor will be hoping to continue his good form

Ross Taylor will be hoping to continue his good form
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Ross Taylor - One of New Zealand's mainstay in the middle order and a key component of the batting line-up along with Williamson. This will very well be his last Champions Trophy tournament and will be hoping for it to be a memorable one. Having returned from a eye surgery, the 33-year-old has notched scores of 52, 25, 57 and 60 not out in the four games of the tri-series and New Zealand will be desperately hoping for him to set the platform for the power-hitters down the order.

Fixtures:

New Zealand are positioned in Group A and their opening game will be against Steven Smith's men followed by clashes against host England and Bangladesh.

2nd June v Australia at Edgbaston
6th June v England at Sophia Gardens
9th June v v Bangladesh at Sophia Gardens

Squad:

Kane Williamson (captain), Corey Anderson, Trent Boult, Neil Broom, Colin de Grandhomme, Martin Guptill, Tom Latham, Mitchell McClenaghan, Adam Milne, Jimmy Neesham, Jeetan Patel, Luke Ronchi, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor

Cricket World Mr Predictor Prediction: New Zealand will have a stiff challenge of combating two of the toughest contenders Australia and England upfront and their start to the tournament will be a key factor for their success.

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