New Zealand’s 2-0 T20I series win against West Indies was hardly a surprise. Apart from being a formidable side at home in all the three formats, the Kiwis also enjoy a superior home record against West Indies, against home their last and only home loss has come in 2008.
However, what makes their recently concluded T20I series win special is their ability to pull it off with the same dominance without Kane Williamson, Colin de Grandhomme, Trent Boult, and Colin Munro.
All the four above cricketers are quintessential to New Zealand’s T20I side, and yet none of them was needed to seal the series against the reigning T20 World Cup champions.
Let's look at a potentially full-strength New Zealand side as they build up for the T20 World Cup in India next year.
Options: Glenn Phillips, Kane Williamson, Tim Seifert, Colin Munro, Martin Guptill
From Tim Seifert to Glenn Phillips, New Zealand’s top-order is filled with options. Colin Munro is arguably their most destructive opener and would walk back to the side, even if it means demoting Kane Williamson down the order - a role he did well in the Indian T20 League. The plethora of options up top means New Zealand could actually afford to bench Martin Guptill, who has been a hit and miss proposition of late.
Options: Mark Chapman, Devon Conway, Tom Bruce, Ross Taylor
While there are options aplenty at the top, that's not exactly the case in New Zealand’s middle-order. Devon Conway had a fantastic debut series and is likely to be persisted with in the middle. Williamson could join him there as there's no room at the top and we could see one of Mark Chapman or Ross Taylor slot in.
While Taylor is an effective ODI batsman, he takes time to get off the blocks in T20s and it was time the Kiwis moved on from him. And if everyone except Guptill from the top-order play, Taylor may not be needed at all. However, that will also potentially mean a role change for a top-order batsman as Conway is best suited in the top three place, if not four.
Options: Colin de Grandhomme, Daryl Mitchell, Mitchell Santner, James Neesham, Doug Bracewell, Michael Rippon
Colin de Grandhomme, James Neesham and Mitchell Santner are frontline options here and all three should ideally start with de Grandhomme and Neesham splitting overs. Santner is a terrific T20 bowler and more than capable of holding his own at no.7. Daryl Mitchell and Bracewell are handy back-ups, but it's hard to see them jump over the other three into the starting XI.
An x-factor pick and a likely replacement for Taylor in the middle is Michael Rippon, the Dutch-South African who migrated to New Zealand. A handy batsman and a left-arm wrist-spinner, Rippon adds something to New Zealand's spin cupboard that's pretty much bare.
Options: Ish Sodhi
It's here that New Zealand lack options. Santner is a definite starter but he has little support with an unreliable Ish Sodhi. Rippon, as such, is an enticing pick for New Zealand as he is eligible for selection now. Sodhi might continue to be around with the T20 World Cup in India and given his performance there in the last T20 World Cup, but it's only a matter of time before a domestic performer displaces him. For now, the options are slim in the domestic circuit too.
Options: Scott Kuggeleijn, Hamish Bennett, Lockie Ferguson, Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Blair Tickner, Kyle Jamieson
With options in plenty, New Zealand have a terrific pace attack at their disposal, all with varied skillsets. Lockie Ferguson is terrific in all phases while Trent Boult is a lock for the powerplay and possibly even in the death overs, after his showing for Mumbai in the Indian T20 League. Hamish Bennett and Kyle Jamieson remain outside candidates for a place but Shane Bond has thrown his weight behind Jamieson who debuted in the West Indies series. Scott Kuggeleijn had a terrific Caribbean Premier League where he topped the wickets chart and could be in the mix for sure.
Feature Image courtesy: Michael Bradley / AFP