By Niall Anderson in Birmingham

If there has been one issue with the dominance of the Black Caps bowlers at the Cricket World Cup, you may find it in the resulting lack of opportunities for the Black Caps batsmen.

Get out your tiny violins for the ultimate first world cricketing problem, but it's still a potential pickle the Black Caps have to be wary of, as they prepare for their toughest examination yet against a quality South African bowling attack in Birmingham on Wednesday.

Having to chase totals of 136, 244 and 172 has left comparatively little to do for the Black Caps batsmen compared to their counterparts. Only once has Jimmy Neesham been required to stroll out at number six, Tom Latham has faced 22 balls all tournament, and at no stage have the Black Caps been required to set a testing total, or even tackle a tricky run-rate.


Their sole nervous moment came against Bangladesh, in what was a somewhat unconvincing chase, leaving a few things unproven ahead of their stern examinations ahead.

However, Black Caps batting coach Craig McMillan is unconcerned about his side not having run the full gamut of scenarios this early in the tournament.

"What we've always talked about is winning in the best possible way, and we've done that in all three games, so that's all you can ask. There's certainly going to be times throughout the tournament where the batting will be stretched, whether that's batting first or chasing a total, and same with the bowling – we've seen some big scores in this tournament.

"But I've got confidence in the group of guys we've got, that we've got the experience and skillset to deal with that and put a good performance on the board."

Black Caps batsman Ross Taylor. Photo / Photosport
Black Caps batsman Ross Taylor. Photo / Photosport

They will likely require that against South Africa, who have three potential game-changing bowlers in their ranks. Spinner Imran Tahir ripped through Afghanistan and could be a serious threat on what is expected to be a slower wicket, Lungi Ngidi is fully fit after recovering from a hamstring injury, while star seamer Kagiso Rabada is due a breakout World Cup performance.

With that type of talent looming, McMillan isn't reading much into South Africa's struggles, and knows they'll pose a considerable threat.

"South Africa are a quality side, and they're a very dangerous side, obviously they haven't perhaps had the start to the tournament that they were after, which I think perhaps makes them even more dangerous. We've very wary of them, because we know the quality of the players they have in their set-up."

Facing that dangerous attack at the top of the Black Caps order could be Colin Munro, who was given a vote of confidence despite some mixed performances in his last two games.

Black Caps batsman Colin Munro. Photo / Photosport
Black Caps batsman Colin Munro. Photo / Photosport

Having started the tournament with a quickfire unbeaten 58 against Sri Lanka, Munro produced some mixed offerings against Bangladesh (24 off 34 balls) and Afghanistan (22 off 24).

With Henry Nicholls back in the mix, the Black Caps have options to face the new ball, and while McMillan praised Munro's performances, he acknowledged it's ultimately not his call as to who will partner Martin Guptill.

"I'm happy with the way Colin's played. I think the intent's been very good at the top of the order, and he played very well in the first game against Sri Lanka. But I think the great thing is we've got options in the side if that's the way the captain and coach want to go.

"We have flexibility, we have options within the 15, that if we do have to make changes due to pitch conditions or opposition, we can do that. I think it's just the way things have fallen in those first three games that we've had a couple of injury niggles, so we haven't had a full squad to pick from, but after today we'll have a full squad to pick on Wednesday, so that'll be a conversation for captain and coach to have."

Also likely to be topics at the selection table are the battle for the opening seam spot between Tim Southee and Matt Henry, while the brown deck displayed when the covers were lifted at training could also see Ish Sodhi come into the mix as a second spin option.

The Alternative Commentary Collective are podcasting their way through the World Cup. Known for their unconventional sports analysis and off-kilter banter, the ACC have come to ask the tough questions. Here's the latest episode of 'The Agenda':