New Zealand World Cup profile: Historic overachievers seek glory after 2015 heartbreak

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The Blackcaps are gunning for a maiden World Cup crown.

New Zealand’s last ICC World Cup appearance ended in heartbreak with the Blackcaps going down to arch-rivals Australia in the final of the 2015 edition at Melbourne.

That missed opportunity to land a maiden World Cup title for New Zealand will still be on the minds of Kane Williamson and his men as they arrive in England for the global showpiece.

Despite their sparse population and relatively small size compared to some of the heavyweights like India and Australia, the Kiwis have historically punched above their weight when it comes to multi-team ICC tournaments such as the World Cup and the Champions Trophy.

In 11 previous World Cup appearances, the Blackcaps have managed to reach the semi-finals on as many as six occasions with a runner-up finish in 2015 being their best showing yet.

New Zealand come into the World Cup as the No4 ranked team in ODI cricket after what has been a mixed 2019 for them so far. They started the year with a 1-4 reversal at the hands of India but seem to have found their groove back with a 3-0 whitewash of Bangladesh.

Promisingly, Trent Boult and Co ripped through India on English turf at The Oval in their first warm-up game on Saturday.

Here, we take a closer look at how the Kiwis are shaping up ahead of the World Cup.

Record: Semi-finals 1975, 1979, 1992, 1999, 2007 and 2011

Squad: Kane Williamson (captain), Martin Guptill, Henry Nicholls, Ross Taylor, Tom Latham, Colin Munro, Tom Blundell, Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner, Jimmy Neesham, Ish Sodhi, Matt Henry, Lockie Ferguson, Tim Southee, Trent Boult.

Strength: In skipper Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor and Martin Guptill, the Kiwis have a solid spine in the batting department with plenty of years of experience. The three batsmen are all ranked in the top 11 ODI batsmen currently.

Weakness: A vulnerability against wrist-spin was evident in their 1-4 series defeat to India with Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal running rings around their batsmen. All major teams have a quality wrist-spinner in their ranks and that weakness will need to be addressed promptly.

Ross Taylor has been in sensational form over the last two years.

Ross Taylor has been in sensational form over the last two years.

One to watch: Stalwart Ross Taylor is going through the most prolific period of his career with a batting average of nearly 53 since the turn of 2017. The right-hander will be keen to make up a disappointing individual campaign in 2015 in what could be his final World Cup.

Surprise package: All-rounder James Neesham will be keen to continue his resurgence after recovering from injury troubles which saw him fail to play a single ODI in 2018.

Prediction: Semi-final

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