The much anticipated clash between the two remaining unbeaten teams in the 2019 Cricket World Cup – New Zealand and India – was another victim of the atrocious recent English weather, with the game abandoned at Trent Bridge, Nottingham, without a ball being bowled. Each team receiving one point – and, therefore, maintaining their unbeaten records.
Whilst both teams will have been disappointed to not be able to pit their wits against each other, neither team will be overly disappointed with the point. New Zealand, arguably, maybe a bit more satisfied than India, after having a much easier opening to their 2019 World Cup campaign – but, as they always seem to do, flying under many peoples radar when discussing potential winners – most votes going to the afore mentioned India or hosts England, with the Australians also gaining some traction.
But New Zealand should be ignored, dismissed, at your peril. They have been consistently competitive in World Cups across the decades, are currently ranked higher in the world ODI standings than the likes of the more fancied Australians – as well as the explosive West Indies and the enigmatic, though talented Pakistan outfit. In Ross Taylor (above) they have the third highest ranked ODI batsman in the world – Trent Boult the second highest ranked ODI bowler and Mitchell Santner the fifth highest ranked ODI all rounder. Indeed, over half their usual starting XI across all three disciplines are in the top 10 ODI players in the world.
New Zealand, like England, have never won a World Cup. They were finalists in 2015, although put to the sword in that game by Australia, but have been semi-finalists in seven iterations of the tournament since its inception in 1975. To say they peak for the World Cup is something of an understatement.
As mentioned, they have, there is no doubt, had a favourable schedule for the start of this tournament. Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan in your first three games is as good as it gets. But all three teams were dismissed with relative comfort. They have bowled each of their opponents out – all three batting first – and then chased down their targets for the loss of just 11 wickets across the three games. Kane Williamson currently has a batting average of 119, with Taylor, Munro also over 50 and Martin Guptill on 49, whilst all their bowlers have contributed to the cause…every Kiwi bowler taking at least two wickets so far, with fast bowler Lockie Ferguson leading the way with 8.
Sharp, disciplined and imaginative in the field, it will be fascinating to see how the Kiwis perform as their World Cup group stage schedule stiffens. By the time though that they face up to bitter rivals Australia and hosts England, their place in the final four may already be certain. They will certainly fancy their chances in the next game against the struggling South Africans. It will be no surprise to see them qualify for the final four – and maybe further still.
2019 CRICKET WORLD CUP – NEW ZEALAND GROUP STAGE SCHEDULE
- 01/6/19 vs Sri Lanka – WON by 10 wickets
- 05/6/19 vs Bangladesh – WON by 2 wickets
- 08/6/19 vs Afghanistan – WON by 7 wickets
- 13/6/19 vs India – ABANDONED – no play possible due to rain
- 19/6/19 vs South Africa
- 22/6/19 vs West Indies
- 26/6/19 vs Pakistan
- 29/6/19 vs Australia
- 03/7/19 vs England