New Zealand

New Zealand: Always dangerous

New Zealand: Always dangerous

New Zealand squad:
Daniel Vettori (captain)
Shane Bond
Ian Butler
Gareth Hopkins
Brendon McCullum
Nathan McCullum
Kyle Mills
Rob Nicol
Jacob Oram
Aaron Redmond
Jesse Ryder
Tim Southee
Scott Styris
Ross Taylor

Overview

Hardly an international tournament goes by without New Zealand being labelled a "dark horse" and, to be honest, they never seem to disappoint, often reaching the last four before falling short at the final few hurdles.

This year's ICC World Twenty20 in the Caribbean could again be case of "always a bridesmaid, never the bride" for the Kiwis.

Paired with Sri Lanka - another team who is expected to challenge for honours - and minnows Zimbabwe, the Black Caps really shouldn't have any problems making the next round.

They should also be good enough to get through their Super Eights group and after that it's usually anyone's game. Unfortunately, no matter how good the odds are on them winning the tournament, deep down you just get the feeling Daniel Vettori won't be holding the trophy aloft come May 16.

Strengths

Taylor: IPL experience

The Kiwis have a little bit of everything - Brendon McCullum in the batting department, Shane Bond's death bowling which is suited to the Twenty20 game and Daniel Vettori's captaincy and spin bowling (something that could be key on the wickets in the Caribbean).

Besides McCullum, they also have other big hitters in Jesse Ryder, Jacob Oram and Ross Taylor, who has been playing in the Indian Premier League.

Tim Southee showed against in the recent series against Australia earlier this year that he can play a vital role with the ball.

You can also be certain that the New Zealanders will be sharp in the field, despite some of their squad now being a little long in the tooth.

Weaknesses

Oram: Injury issues

The form and fitness of their usually dependable all-rounders is a major concern for the Black Caps heading into the tournament.

Oram is coming off yet another serious injury and Scott Styris hasn't had a look-in with the Deccan Chargers in the Indian Premier League.

If those two struggle for either form or fitness, then it will put even more pressure on captain Vettori as he now has to fulfil the all-rounder's slot.

Meanwhile, Kyle Mills hasn't played for New Zealand since the ICC Champions Trophy last year and is recovering from shoulder and knee surgery while Ryder, Ian Butler and Aaron Redmond are also just back from injury.

Six-hitter - Brendon McCullum

McCullum: Brutal opener

McCullum isn't Twenty20 cricket's highest run scorer and top six-hitter for nothing. The New Zealand opener needs just 13 to reach the 1,000-run milestone. He has already smashed 38 sixes in 33 matches and has a strike rate of 133.19.

His last T20 international yielded an unbeaten 116 (off only 56 balls) against Australia. Of course, he also has a knock of 158 not out in the IPL to his name.

Strike bowler - Daniel Vettori

Vettori: Captain fantastic

Many might be surprised that it isn't Shane Bond. However, recent Twenty20 matches in the Caribbean showed that spin bowlers will get a lot of joy during the tournament and Vettori is hardly a slouch when it comes to the shortest format of the game.

The New Zealand skipper is third on the list of top wicket takers in T20 cricket with 31. He averages just 14.51 and his economy rate of 5.42 is outstanding in this form of the game.

Look out for...Jesse Ryder

Ryder: Back for Black Caps

After almost seven months out of international cricket through injury, Ryder will be keen to make up for lost time in the World Twenty20.

The opener marked his return to cricket following his lengthy absence with a century in domestic cricket and his talent has never been in doubt.

A left-hander who loves to save his legs by slapping the ball to the boundary, he has made two half-centuries in his nine T20 international appearances.

It will be good to see Ryder and McCullum reunited at the top of the New Zealand order and if they come off it could be something very spectacular.

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