New User posted their first comment

Sri Lanka vs New Zealand 2019: Analyzing New Zealand's squad

Life goes on for the New Zealand team
Life goes on for the New Zealand team
Vignesh Kumar
Modified 30 Jul 2019, 11:14 IST

New Zealand has named its team for the upcoming two-match Test series against Sri Lanka as follows:

Kane Williamson (c), Todd Astle, Tom Blundell (wk), Trent Boult, Colin de Grandhomme, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Ajaz Patel, Jeet Raval, Will Somerville, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Neil Wagner, and BJ Watling (wk).

It will be the first Test series for both teams as part of the World Test Championship.

For the Kiwis, it is a settled squad that reflects continuity in selection and clarity in the roles that each player is selected for, and it also offers many of the players involved in that epic World Cup final a chance to take their minds off that game and focus on what lies ahead.

For the likes of Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Tom Latham, Tom Blundell, Henry Nicholls, Colin de Grandhomme and Mitchell Santner, it is a valuable opportunity to do so.

The major talking point is the selection of 4 spin bowlers in Mitchell Santner, Todd Astle, Will Somerville and Ajaz Patel, alongside 3 specialist pace bowlers in Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Neil Wagner.

Santner and Astle return to the squad following lengthy lay-offs due to injury. Santner will likely return as the first-choice spinner in the team and also adds batting depth to the playing XI. His control and accuracy with the ball will ensure that pressure will constantly be built from one end, leaving bowlers to freely hunt for wickets from the other end.

Todd Astle's ability to bowl leg-spin separates him from the other spin bowling options but he also has a poor record with the ball, with 4 wickets in 4 matches. Like Santner, he also offers batting depth, but that might not be enough to ensure his selection.

Will Somerville took 7 wickets on debut against Pakistan last year but has not played for New Zealand since.

Ajaz Patel has 13 wickets from 5 matches so far with all 13 of them coming against Pakistan in conditions conducive to spin bowling in the United Arab Emirates. Patel is likely to play as the second spinner should New Zealand go with only 2 spin bowlers.


However, up to 3 of the 4 spin bowlers could feature in the playing XI to try and replicate England's successful strategy of playing with 3 spinners last year, due to conditions in Sri Lanka favouring spin bowlers more than pace bowlers.

Only one of Tim Southee, Trent Boult, and Neil Wagner would be playing in that scenario. Boult appears likely to play due to his pace and his left-arm angle and Wagner is likely to play should New Zealand pick two pace bowlers.

The batting is more settled, with Tom Latham and Jeet Raval opening the innings and followed by Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, and BJ Watling. Watling will play as a wicket-keeper, with Tom Blundell selected as a backup option.

Blundell is also the only backup batsman selected in the squad with Will Young currently recovering from shoulder surgery. Young impressed earlier in the year with two centuries and one half-century against Australia in an unofficial series and was called up to the national team as cover for Kane Williamson during the Test series against Bangladesh in March. He is a player to watch for the future.

Colin de Grandhomme is the only all-rounder selected and could also bowl with the new ball to accommodate 3 spin bowlers. No backup all-rounder was selected, with Jimmy Neesham currently playing in the Global T20 League in Canada instead.

Mitchell Santner, first-choice spinner for New Zealand.
Mitchell Santner, first-choice spinner for New Zealand.

Going with 3 pace bowlers meant that Matt Henry and Lockie Ferguson missed out on selection following excellent World Cup campaigns. Both will be in contention for the upcoming home series against England and away series against Australia later this year but will be disappointed on missing out here.

New Zealand will have confidence in their ability to play in spinning conditions following their series win against Pakistan last year. But they will also take note of how previous teams (such as Australia and South Africa) fared poorly against Sri Lanka's spin bowlers and will want to be cautious when playing against them.

The presence of multiple left-handed batsmen in the lineup - Latham, Raval, Nicholls, and Santner - is a potential weakness that Sri Lanka's off-spinners can exploit. It will not be a significant concern for New Zealand, as the same players (barring Santner) had been part of the team that beat Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates.

In Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor, they have two of the best players of spin anywhere, and in Tim Southee and Trent Boult, they have one of the finest pairs of new-ball bowlers. Boult and Southee will have fond memories of their last test in Sri Lanka, where they combined to take 15 wickets in a famous win.

A maximum of 120 points (60 for each win) is at stake for whichever team wins this series. New Zealand starts as favorites due to their no.2 ranking, but an inexperienced Sri Lankan team chaotically won a two-match series against South Africa in South Africa, leaving it difficult to predict a clear winner here.

Published 30 Jul 2019, 11:14 IST
Fetching more content...
App download animated image Get the free App now
❤ī¸ Favorites Edit