Teams wouldn't want to face New Zealand in a knockout game: Graeme Smith
Former South African Captain Graeme Smith talked about New Zealand’s chances at the World Cup. He believes that the Kiwis have a good chance at lifting the World Cup for the first time in their history as they host the tournament along with Australia in February and March.
Despite never having qualified for the finals, New Zealand have performed admirably in the World Cup by reaching the semi-finals six times. They’ve always been labelled as dark horses for the tournament, but with them being the host nation this time, there is added pressure on them.
Smith said, “I think they (New Zealand) play well in their own conditions. Very, very small grounds and can be difficult to adapt to. But I think that when you look at this side, they've built up a really nice one.
“I think New Zealand are certainly a team to look out for in this tournament. A very exciting team and I think a team that other teams will say, ‘Jeez, I don't really want to come up against them in a knockout game’.”
“Vettori is key for this tournament”
Smith talked about their players from young stars like Kane Williamson to veteran Daniel Vettori.
He opined, “His (Williamson’s) game has gone to a new level and I think he's provided a stability that New Zealand have always lacked.
“He's (Vettori) a difficult guy to rotate the strike so he almost squeezes you and squeezes you into making mistakes. Been a great performer certainly in the short format for a long period of time, had his injuries but I think he's key for this tournament.”
On Tim Southee, Smith said, “I think he swings the new ball and bowls very well at the death. His economy rate is high but we keep referring to those small boundaries in New Zealand.”
While he believes that Brendon McCullum’s captaincy has helped his batting and will be key for the Kiwis at the 11th edition of the World Cup. “I think he's doing a great job, he's brought a new dynamic into that side, a little bit of steeliness and creativity and his own batting seems to have gone up a notch since he's got the captaincy,” Smith concluded.