New Zealand

  • Last Updated: September 19 2012, 11:51 BST

We take a look at New Zealand's squad, key players and hopes at the ICC World Twenty20.

McCullum: Potential match-winner for New Zealand

Group D Fixtures:
September 21: Bangladesh at Pallekele International Cricket Stadium, 1100 BST
September 23: Pakistan at Pallekele International Cricket Stadium, 1100 BST

Overview: New Zealand go into the tournament after a below-par summer, with hammerings in all formats by the West Indies and a poor tour of India. But they will feel boosted by their most recent game in Chennai, where they edged a thriller against their hosts by a single run.

Their batting order has been fairly dismal for the most part, with one or two players shining in games but finding themselves without back-up. Brendon McCullum's 91 in the one-run win was the best knock of the season, as he successfully combated the spinners that had given the Kiwis such trouble all tour.

The Black Caps are a good T20 side, though, and can pull off upsets against the best on their day. In the last World Twenty20 in 2010, they topped their group with wins over Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe, though the Super Eights saw them lose two of their three games and bow out.

They have wise old heads with players like Daniel Vettori and Kyle Mills back in the mix after they joined up with the side at the end of the India tour. Their experience on the sub-continent will be invaluable, as will McCullum's batting and solid wicketkeeping.

Strengths: Perennial dark horses, their ability to exceed pre-tournament predictions and expectations points to a strong spirit and belief. You never know what's going to happen when you take the field against them, and that makes it tricky to prepare for them. They have match-winners, players who can come off spectacularly on the day, as India can attest to. They're also an energetic and technically excellent fielding side, capable of saving crucial runs with ground-fielding on the ropes or the occasional spectacular catch.

Weaknesses: The tours to the West Indies and India highlighted the Kiwis' severe deficiencies against spin. Sunil Narine tormented them in the Caribbean, before Pragyan Ojha and Ravichandran Ashwin took them apart in Hyderabad. Taylor has admitted that he and his top order will need to be very wary against Pakistan and Bangladesh's spinners in the group stage, while still trying to play attacking shots. Their mental block was evident in India, and getting forward will be vital if they're to survive Ajmal and company. Their own spin department also looks weak. The pace attack is decent, with Mills, Tim Southee and Doug Bracewell backed up by death-over specialist James Franklin. But Daniel Vettori has little frontline support in the spinning ranks.

Six-hitter: Brendon McCullum. The Black Caps' keeper-batsman has scored more runs and hit more sixes than anyone else in the admittedly still brief history of T20I cricket. His tally of over 1,400 runs is especially remarkable given that only one other player - Kevin Pietersen - has reached 1,000. The big-hitting Kiwi is also on course to join Shahid Afridi in the exclusive 50-cap club during the coming weeks.

Strike bowler: Daniel Vettori. The veteran left-arm spinner's T20I record ranks among the best in the game, with his 35 wickets coming at an average of just 17 and with a remarkable economy rate of just 5.50. There is no secret or mystery to Vettori's spin bowling, but it doesn't make him any easier to play. His variety comes from changes in pace and flight, and his unflappable temperament is ideally suited to the stresses of bowling to the world's best players in this often frantic form of the game.

One to watch: James Franklin. Not a player to strike fear into the opposition with either bat or ball in hand, but an under-rated performer. He's a fantastic containment bowler at the end of an innings; in the T20 against India he cramped and strangled the Indian batsmen at the death, and it's not often Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh are forced to nurdle for singles in a T20I. And while frequently deployed too high in the batting order, Franklin is handy with the bat, boasting an average of 22 in T20Is at a strike rate of 118 with a top score of 60. An unheralded player, perhaps, but one who could prove the difference between a win and a loss and therefore between qualification and elimination.

Squad: Ross Taylor (capt), Dog Bracewell, James Franklin, Martin Guptill, Ronnie Hira, Brendon McCullum (wk), Nathan McCullum, Kyle Mills, Adam Milne, Rob Nicol, Jacob Oram, Tim Southee, Daniel Vettori, BJ Watling, Kane Williamson.