Covers sport across NZME's print, digital and radio brands.

Cricket: New Zealand well placed to make T20 semifinals

Kane Williamson in action for the Black Caps. Photo / Jason Oxen
Kane Williamson in action for the Black Caps. Photo / Jason Oxen

Barring a dismantlement of Jenga proportions, New Zealand look a sound prospect to reach their second semifinal in six World T20 attempts and their first in three attempts on the subcontinent.

The Black Caps have a sound foundation in place for tournament success in India, but the schedule remains riddled with challenges.

They face Pakistan in Mohali on Wednesday (3am NZ time) and Bangladesh in Kolkata on Saturday (10.30pm NZ time). Both grounds are relatively large, meaning New Zealand could return to the three-spinner strategy which worked so impressively against India in Nagpur. Any such decision could raise the unfathomable prospect of leaving Trent Boult and Tim Southee out for the entire tournament. Why change a winning formula?

Mitchell McClenaghan returned at the expense of Nathan McCullum against Australia. He delivered the crucial 19th over which conceded three runs and exacted two wickets to earn man-of-the-match honours. Such hunger presents a welcome selection conundrum.

However, as McClenaghan conceded post-match, "it's hard to score on wickets that are turning with good quality spinners". If New Zealand advances down that path, there will be justified confidence in what the spinners can deliver.

Another advantage is that a number of the New Zealanders are familiar with Mohali and Kolkata, a benefit from multiple years spent with Indian Premier League franchises.

New Zealand, the world's third-ranked T20 side behind India and the West Indies, will have confidence against the seventh-ranked Pakistan, having beaten them 2-1 in the summer series at home.

Mohali will present more spin-friendly conditions but, in an irony on the subcontinent, will Pakistan have the spin attack beyond Shahid Afridi to present a significant threat? But combating a pace attack which could include Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Irfan or Anwar Ali will be taxing.

- Herald on Sunday

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf05 at 04 Dec 2016 15:26:48 Processing Time: 482ms