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India vs New Zealand: 5 Kiwi players who can spoil MS Dhoni's party

Rohan Raj | Updated on: 14 February 2017, 5:55 IST

The Indian cricket team will begin their ICC World T20 campaign on 15 March when they take on New Zealand in what promises to be a scintillating encounter.

MS Dhoni's men might have witnessed a sensational run in the shortest version of the game lately, but the Men in Blue will not be foolish enough to take the Kiwis lightly in their first match.

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Ranked fourth in the ICC T20 rankings, New Zealand are touted as one of the most dangerous and unpredictable side, capable of producing an upset against stronger teams in the tournament. The team was at its prolific best during the 2015 World Cup, reaching the tournament final but eventually losing to their trans-Tasman rivals and co-hosts Australia.

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The Kiwis head into the showpiece event on the back of impressive performances against Pakistan at home, where they won the T20I and ODI series convincingly. Though Brendon McCullum's absence is surely a big blow, the Kane Williamson-led team still boasts of potential match-winners.

As the two teams gear up for the first major clash in this year's World T20, here's a look at five New Zealand players who can spoil the chances for India:

Corey Anderson

Corey Anderson_Marty Melville/AFP Photo

Photo: Marty Melville/AFP

The 25-year-old holds the record for the fastest ODI 100 by a New Zealand player. A powerful striker of the ball and an effective seamer, Anderson is a bonafide superstar in the shortest format and one of New Zealand's most dangerous players.

The all-rounder, who also plays for Mumbai Indians in the IPL, is a valuable addition to any team and with a career strike-rate of 144, he is undoubtedly an imposing figure. Anderson is returning from an injury and will be eager to make an impact in the showpiece event.

Kane Williamson

Kane Williamson_Marty Melville/AFP Photo

Photo: Marty Melville/AFP

The New Zealand captain has been one of the most influential players for his side in recent times. The ambidextrous top-order batsman has become a vital cog in New Zealand's batting department since his debut in 2010. Williamson has amassed 844 runs in 30 T20Is at a strike-rate of over 127.

At the crease, Williamson is comfortable against pace and spin, and the fact that he trusts the coaching manual explicitly despite the mutation of batting in the T20 era makes him more dangerous. With the mental strength to match his skills, Williamson has been given the New Zealand captaincy after the retirement of Brendon McCullum.

Colin Munro

Colin Munro_Indranil Mukherjee/AFP Photo

Photo: Indranil Mukherjee/AFP

The 29-year-old batsman is one of the sweetest timers of the ball in limited-overs cricket. The left-hander gets his runs at a very quick rate and has the ability to play a big knock under pressure.

The hard-hitting batsman has been in scintillating form this year. His last four T20Is scores read: 36 (26), 50* (14), 56* (27) and 4 (3). He was also the star of the show in New Zealand's first warm-up game against Sri Lanka where he smashed 67 in 34 balls to power his side to a 74-run win.

Tim Southee

Tim Southee_Saeed Khan/AFP Photo

Photo: Saeed Khan/AFP

The right-arm swing bowler is an experienced campaigner and also the spearhead of New Zealand's bowling attack. His ability to generate late outswing at a brisk pace makes him a good attacking bowler. He was sensational during the 2011 World Cup where he took 18 wickets at 17.33 to trouble the opposition batsmen.

On the slow Indian wickets, Southee's deceiving variations will surely be crucial for New Zealand. Also, his experience of playing with Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals in the IPL will boost the chances for his side against a strong competitor like India.

Nathan McCullum

Nathan McCullum_Jekesai Njikizana/AFP Photo

Photo: Jekesai Njikizana/AFP

Though New Zealand have included three spinners in their squad for the World T20, the experienced Nathan McCullum is likely to hold his spot in the playing XI. The 35-year-old older brother of Brendon McCullum will be crucial on the turning wickets in India.

The off-spinner possesses adequate variations and boasts of vast experience to outwit the opposition batsmen. His spell of four overs will be pivotal in deciding the fate of New Zealand against India in the first group match.

New Zealand squad

Kane Williamson (c), Corey Anderson, Trent Boult, Grant Elliott, Martin Guptill, Adam Milne, Mitchell McClenaghan, Colin Munro, Nathan McCullum, Henry Nicholls, Luke Ronchi (wk), Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor.

First published: 13 March 2016, 3:08 IST
Rohan Raj @ro4an_raj

After a poor stint in gully-cricket quashed his hopes of turning pro, Rohan moved away from the playing field and began criticising those who were still on it. Football eases his mind and watching City paint Manchester blue is his elusive dream. When not talking, thinking or dreaming about sports, Rohan can be found listening to EDM or watching movies. A sports correspondent at Catch News, he has previously worked with Hindustan Times, Daily Bhaskar and India Today.