"I don't think New Zealand are favourites" - Former NZ coach Glenn Pocknall analyses squad ahead of T20 World Cup opener against Australia

New Zealand v Pakistan: Final - Tri-Series
Glenn Pocknall feels New Zealand will once again be underdogs in the T20 World Cup 2022. (P.C.:Getty)

Hosts Australia will lock horns with Trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand (NZ) in the first game of the T20 World Cup 2022's Super 12 stage on Saturday (October 22).

Kane Williamson and his men have some injury woes and have had to deal with some indifferent form going into the tournament. However, it is a well-known fact that the Kiwis tend to do well and go deep into the competition in ICC tournaments. They notably finished as runners-up in last year's T20 World Cup.

Former New Zealand coach Glenn Pocknall has worked with players like Finn Allen, Michael Bracewell, and Devon Conway ever since their early days. He knows quite a lot about what they have to offer on the biggest stage.

Speaking in an exclusive chat with Sportskeeda, Pocknall opened up on New Zealand's chances of winning their first T20 World Cup title Down Under. He provided a detailed analysis of the squad as well.

Excerpts from Glenn Pocknall's conversation with Sportskeeda on New Zealand's T20 World Cup chances:

Q: Martin Guptill is arguably one of the best white-ball players New Zealand have produced and has some great numbers in T20Is. So how do you look at the chances of him starting in the XI?

A: Look, it's a tough decision because Martin Guptill is New Zealand’s highest run-scorer in this format and a leading player. He will bring a lot of experience with him. But on the flip side, he is low on form and then you have Finn Allen, who is young, brash and really has nothing to lose.

So, it is a bit of a no-brainer that Finn will open in the World Cup. I don’t see Guptill opening unless there are injuries because he hasn’t performed the way he has done in the past.

A fifth six to bring up his 2nd T20I fifty, Finn Allen 🏏 #NZvPAK

Q: How well do you think will the partnership between Finn Allen and Devon Conway will work for New Zealand? Both have been your former students too.

A: Finn Allen has the ability to hit boundaries from ball one. Tthat will really complement Devon Conway at the top, with the likes of Kane Williamson and Glenn Phillips completing a good package.

Conway has the ability to hit boundaries straightaway, but he can also bat 70-80 percent of the innings and hold the team together. To see them (Finn and Conway) convert what they have done under my coaching in Wellington onto international level is pleasing to see.

Cracking sound off the bat. Devon Conway playing really well!

Q: Kane Williamson is coming off a fine half-century against Pakistan in the tri-series final. However, his strike rate has been under the scanner for quite some time now. What role do you see the NZ skipper playing?

A: Kane Williamson is coming into form at the right time with a 50-odd against Pakistan in the tri-series final. Although his strike rate hasn’t been as good as what it was in the past, people need to remember that they have Phillips and Daryl Mitchell to follow.

Then you get the likes of [Jimmy] Neesham and [Michael] Bracewell, who are clear boundary-hitters at the death. It gives Williamson and [Devon] Conway the freedom to anchor the innings and put the foot on the accelerator when needed, something they are very well capable of.

Q: Michael Bracewell has also been your student in the past. His all-round abilities have been like a breath of fresh air to the New Zealand team. How do you look at him as an impact player?

A: The rise of Michael Bracewell hasn’t surprised me, given how hard I have seen him work in his early days and how a great leader he has been. He brings a sense of calm to the dressing room.

We have seen how he troubled [Mohammad] Rizwan and Babar [Azam], who are No. 1 and No. 3 in the world (T20I batters' rankings). People say he is a part-time off-spinner, but I don’t think so. I believe he is a genuine spinner and his performances show that

Michael Bracewell in this T20I Tri series:1-0-6-04-0-14-24-0-11-24-0-39-24-0-14-25 matches, 8 wickets, 10.50 average, 4.94 economy.

Q: Michael Bracewell has almost ensured that there's a place for just one more spinner among Ish Sodhi and Mitchell Santner. Considering how expensive Sodhi was in the tri-series final, would you play Santner? Or would you back Sodhi because of his wrist-spin?

A: Bracewell has done unbelievably well in the tri-series and straightaway puts his name in the team sheet as their first-choice spinner. While Sodhi can turn the ball a lot more than Santner, at times he can go for a few runs.

I would go with Santner because he can bat and that would deepen the New Zealand batting line-up. Knowing that they have Bracewell and Santner at No. 7 and No. 8 respectively, the batters at the top can go a bit harder.

Q: Trent Boult seems to be a certain starter for New Zealand. However, would you bank on the experience and swing of Tim Southee? Or unleash extra pace in the form of Adam Milne and Lockie Ferguson?

A: It will really depend on the conditions. If the ball is likely to swing for the first 2-3 overs, Tim Southee is a sure bet. Otherwise, it is better to go with an all-out pace attack, including both Adam Milne and Lockie Ferguson.

Trent Boult is a sure starter, but i feel the coaches will go with their gut feeling. I hope there will be enough information given to them about the conditions and what could be the best combination accordingly.

Q: There are doubts about whether Ferguson will be fit in time for the opening clash against Australia. Do you feel he will be rushed back into the XI once fit?

A: It is unclear whether he (Ferguson) will be fit in time for the Australia clash. I think it will be a touch-and-go. But I feel once he is fit, he will be rushed into the team because he has the X-factor. He is fast, accurate and has the wicket-taking ability due to his genuine raw pace.

Injury status of @BLACKCAPS players for tomorrow T20 WC opener against @cricketcomau Daryl Mitchell - Ruled out 😢Mitch Santner - Fit ✅Adam Milne - Fit ✅Lockie Ferguson - Fit ✅Daryl Mitchell most likely play against England ( OCT 28 ) #AUSvNZ #T20WorldCup

Q: New Zealand often tend to do well in ICC tournaments when not many give them a chance to go deep into the tournament. What do you feel makes the Kiwis stand apart from others when it comes to the consistency with which they perform in big tournaments?

A: It (an ICC tournament) is a pinnacle event and New Zealanders have this knack of standing up in tough situations and when there is something more on the line like a world tournament.

Given their laid-back nature, the Kiwis don’t really allow any outside influence to apply pressure on them. It is all about the belief they have.

Although New Zealand reached the final last year, I don’t think they are going into the tournament as favorites. India, England and Australia are going as favorites. New Zealand go under the radar that helps them not take any pressure on themselves. I feel the same will happen in this tournament.

Here’s how New Zealand have performed at the T20 World Cup 🏏 🇳🇿How will they do this year? 🤔 #NewZealand #T20WorldCup #CricketTwitter

Q: Do you think just missing out on an ODI World Cup and a T20 World Cup in a span of two years would hurt New Zealand's morale? Or will they be positive because they went so deep into both the tournaments?

A: The confidence will definitely be high because they made the final of the ODI World Cup as well [as] the last T20 World Cup.

Sometimes, you need to get closer to the final a number of times before winning it. Whatever the players have gone through would have surely built a lot of resilience and having gone through that experience will be crucial in a knockout game.

I hope luck goes their way, which hasn’t been the case in crucial moments of previous tournaments. Hopefully, if the little things go their way, they have a chance to reach that milestone and finally win a World Cup.

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Edited by Anantaajith Ra
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