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New Zealand: Can they shake off the “perennial semi-finalists tag”?

While perceptions of South Africa as “chokers”, Pakistan as “unpredictable”, England as “also-rans” have stuck, the one about New Zealand is that of a “dark horse”. They are a side that few expect to do well, but manage to perform beyond expectations, which is why they are so called. The Kiwis have made it past the preliminary stages in all of the 11 World Cups so far with the exception of 1983 and 1987. No other side has crossed this stage nine times. Australia and England have gone past the preliminary stage eight times while India and Pakistan having done that seven times each. But yet, the Kiwis have not been able to win the world’s premier cricketing title even once, leading some to dub them as “perennial semi-finalists”. They seem to have a phenomenal record against teams ranked below them. Outside the World Cup, the Kiwis have lost just 4 and won 24 matches in the past 4 years against teams like Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, West Indies and Afghanistan. If this trend were to continue in the 2019 England and Wales World Cup, one more semi-final for the New Zealanders seems to be in the offing. 

Martin Guptill will open the innings with either Henry Nicholls or Colin Munro, all of whom can be such explosive hitters. Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor will be next in the order, bringing in experience and run-accumulation skills to the fore. Williamson is among the leading three batsmen in contemporary cricket and to top it up, an excellent skipper. Lower down the order will be folks like Tom Latham, James Neesham, Colin de Grandhomme and Mitchell Santner, all capable of big-hitting.

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