By Andrew Alderson in Birmingham
New Zealand have a series of pivotal selection decisions to make as they contemplate the next phase of their cricket World Cup campaign.
Coach Gary Stead has been at pains to point out anyone in the team can perform, if required. That has yet to be tested with a winning combination masking over potential flaws until this morning's six-wicket loss to Pakistan.
Captain Kane Williamson is building his team around consistency and loyalty. Evidence is king and he will be loath to drop anyone on a whim. However, another failure by the openers and the decision to opt against selecting leg spinner Ish Sodhi on a turning Edgbaston pitch means they will want to pay closer attention to their mantra of adapting to conditions.
Compounding any roundtable discussions to change the XI is the premise whether it will improve the team dynamic. Asking a player to enter the tournament ahead of key round-robin matches against Australia and England and a possible play-off would be a significant move. Outside of picking Sodhi for a pace bowler in turning conditions, other changes would likely be for the duration.
Don't expect any wholesale changes from a team determined not to get too high or too low from victories or defeats. Stead and Williamson are not game-by-game gamblers.
Specifically the issue amounts to three questions. Do they:
1. Persevere with the opening combination of Martin Guptill and Colin Munro, or introduce Henry Nicholls?
Nicholls was settling into the opening role towards the end of summer, but a hamstring injury earned Munro a reprieve. He pounced with 58 not out in the first match against Sri Lanka but has struggled since. Similarly, Guptill has battled after an unbeaten 73 to start.
Any deficiencies against the swinging or seaming ball have been plastered over by The Cricketing Defibrillator (aka Williamson) and his ability to resuscitate any innings which risks flatlining. After the first game, he has not entered any later than the sixth over - and has twice trotted out to face the second ball of the innings. Likewise, Ross Taylor has only twice watched the game from the boundary beyond the 10th over.
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New Zealand can perhaps afford one luxury at the top, like Munro with his scything Twenty20 mentality, but not two. Munro seems the most vulnerable to getting switched for Nicholls. He's battling for form in a difficult and selfless role where he's required to attack without fear. Guptill's likely to stay on the basis of pedigree, in the hope he delivers magic when it counts most.
2. Stick with Tom Latham at No.5 as a batsman-wicketkeeper, or debut Tom Blundell at the business end of cricket's biggest showpiece?
Latham had a reasonable summer in the dual role, averaging 38.4 at a strike rate of 93 and producing some sound glove work. His wicketkeeping has been solid with 12 dismissals – all from catches – to be second behind Australia's Alex Carey at the tournament. However, he's struggled to play his strokes with 13 not out against Afghanistan his best return. The strength of the Williamson-Taylor partnership has meant forcing the pace late at times, but he needs a decent return soon to justify his spot.
Exacerbating that is the form of Tom Blundell, a surprise squad selection to some. He has had some sparkling innings in warm-up matches like the 106 off 89 balls against the West Indies pre-tournament, and 77 off 102 balls against an Australian XI in Brisbane. The way he's performed hint he could deal with finals scrutiny.
3. Continue with Matt Henry's pace and seam movement, or showcase Tim Southee's swing and guile?
Henry's future depends on how scarred he is after the "Brathwaite incident". The West Indies all-rounder tore 25 off the 48th over in the five-run win at Manchester. It was a brutal lesson in how momentum can switch in a tournament as Henry was dispatched for 76 runs, took a solitary wicket and dropped Chris Gayle at deep square leg. He took seven wickets across the Sri Lanka and Bangladesh games, and bowled a tight 10 overs against South Africa conceding 34 runs.
Southee's recovered from his right calf strain and has the handy record of taking 25 wickets at an average of 28.16 from 16 matches in England. He was also man-of-the-match against Bangladesh in his last ODI outing during February, taking six for 65 in Dunedin.