Mon, 31 Jan 2011 16:27:05 GMT

Can unpredictable New Zealand spring a surprise?

New Delhi: New Zealand will be returning to the subcontinent for the World Cup starting Feb 19 with the bitter experiences of a 4-0 thrashing in Bangladesh and 5-0 whitewash in the ODI series in India last year.

Can unpredictable New Zealand spring a surprise?

Though New Zealand have ended their 11-match losing streak in style against Pakistan in the ongoing ODI series at home, it will be a big challenge for new coach John Wright to see the team qualify for their sixth semi-final in their 10th World Cup attempt.

Wright, who did wonders with the Indian team as coach and took them to the 2003 World Cup final in his illustrious five-year tenure, is no novice to the challenges in the subcontinent. The former New Zealand opener will be using the ODI series against Pakistan to find the perfect balance for the World Cup.

New Zealand are in Group A with three-time winners Australia, 1992 champion Pakistan, runners-up and favourites Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, Canada and Kenya. They will open their campaign Feb 20 against Kenya at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai.

Led by spinner Daniel Vettori, New Zealand are a talented bunch but are also highly unpredictable as history suggests. The Kiwis have the potential to spring a surprise but can also surrender meekly.

The appointment of Wright in December as the chief coach and of Allan Donald, the legendary South African fast-bowler, as bowling coach will surely help the team, but the players too will have to rise to the occasion.

The inclusion of spinning all-rounder Luke Woodcock may also see New Zealand, who have always been depended heavily on pace attack, go with three spinners in a match.