World Cup 2019: Overdependence on Kane Williamson hurting New Zealand
Cricket is a team sport. Individuals performances are significant to an extent but ultimately, it boils down to the coordinated group effort that produces consistent results.
An embarassing 119-run defeat against hosts England means that New Zealand are yet to qualify for the semi-finals of this year's World Cup.
Given the fact that it is beyond the realms of possibility for Pakistan to progress through to the knockouts, the 2015 finalists have presumably sealed their spot as the fourth placed team in the table.
The batting of New Zealand has been mediocre throughout the World Cup. Bowled out cheaply for 157 and 164 in the last two games against Australia and England respectively, the batting unit is in shambles at the moment.
The over-reliance on the experienced stalwarts- captain Kane Williamson and veteran Ross Taylor is proving to be the downfall for the Blackcaps.
Excluding the skipper himself, the remaining batsmen have failed to deliver consistently for the team, let alone show a flash of brilliance here and there.
Poor starts from the openers
The opening partnerships have been one of the biggest areas of concern for New Zealand. Post the comprehensive 10-wicket win over Sri Lanka, the opening duo has been unable to score a single 50-run partnership in the tournament so far.
Martin Guptill and Colin Munro have been unsuccessful in laying a foundation for other to build upon. Crestfallen with the pair's disastrous run, the Kiwis promoted the flamboyant left-hander, Henry Nicholls, to open alongside Guptill.
The change could not turn around the fortunes as the back-up opener struggled to get going with scores of 0 and 8 against Australia and England. Leading into the knockouts, the openers need to set the tone and lay the foundation upfront.
Leading from the front: Kane Williamson
Kane Williamson has been the lone warrior for New Zealand in the middle order, shouldering the batting burden formidably.
Living up to the expectations, he has been absolutely sensational throughout the tournament. He has actually scored 30% of total team runs and truly deserves the credit for keeping New Zealand still in the hunt.
Having accumulated 481 runs in the tournament at a supple average, he is the highest run-scorer for New Zealand with two match-winning centuries against West Indies (148) and South Africa (108).
Lack of contributions from the lower-middle order
The absence of persistent contributions from the batsmen lower down the order is a cause of concern for the Kiwis.
Batting first, New Zealand have not set up a target in excess of 300 till now. Ross Taylor has a couple of seventies to his name but is yet to play a big knock for the team. Tom Latham, James Neesham and Colin de Grandhomme have a fifty each, but really low and unimpressive scores in the rest of the games.
The strike rotation during the middle phases can certainly be improved. Mitchell Santner hasn't had much to do with the bat, often coming in towards the fag end of the innings. Coach Gary Stead would be expecting an enhanced performance from the batting point of view heading further into the campaign.
Williamson admitted that the team hasn't produced their best performance yet. He also lamented about the lack of partnerships which are extremely crucial in the 50-over format.
The batting oder needs to step up for New Zealand if they are to improve on their performance from the last edition and get their hands on the coveted prize.
Williamson will not score a ton everyday and it is hightime the other batsmen put their hand up.
New Zealand have been playing far from their potential and might just need to hit the reset button. Huffing and puffing along the way, they have done just enough to make it to the semis. Now, they should make it count.
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