Sophie Devine's form gives New Zealand hope of success

Devine and Bates were among the premier New Zealand players at the WBBL Getty Images

Overview

With a T20I series win against South Africa, the return of their veteran quick Lea Tahuhu after a paternity break and a number of seasoned internationals in the side, New Zealand will be hoping to arrive at the big stage in a better shape than they did last time. It was a bitter exit for them in the 2018 edition, when they couldn't get past the group stage after being beaten by India and Australia. They also have a number of stars in form this time, including their captain Sophie Devine who was the top performer at the WBBL and the Super Smash, which augurs well for the team heading into the tournament.

Squad

Sophie Devine (capt), Suzie Bates, Lauren Down, Maddy Green, Holly Huddleston, Hayley Jensen, Leigh Kasperek, Amelia Kerr, Jess Kerr, Rosemary Mair, Katey Martin, Katie Perkins, Anna Peterson, Rachel Priest, Lea Tahuhu (coach: Bob Carter)

Group fixtures

February 22: Sri Lanka, WACA

February 27: India, Junction Oval

February 29: Bangladesh, Junction Oval

March 1: Australia, Junction Oval

T20 World Cup history

They were runners-up in the first two editions of the tournament, following which they underperformed in the next four editions with two semi-final exits (in 2012 and 2016) and two group-stage exits (in 2014 and 2018).

Form guide

New Zealand were handed a 3-0 drubbing in the recent ODI series against South Africa at home where their bowlers and their middle order struggled, but they turned it around in the T20I series that followed. They came back strongly against a solid India line-up in a T20I series at home in January 2019 following the T20 World Cup, thrashing them 3-0.

Key players

Captain Devine's rich run of form puts her among the players to watch out for in the tournament this year. Suzie Bates, the top run-scorer in women's T20Is, will be integral to New Zealand's top order. They both have played in every T20 World Cup so far and can be relied on for spectacular starts. The returning Lea Tahuhu could also make an impact in suitable conditions in Australia. Another senior player who is likely to be key is wicketkeeper-batter Rachel Priest, who returned to the international side after nearly three years for the South Africa series, following her stellar domestic and KSL performances. Apart from them, youngsters Amelia Kerr, Jess Kerr and Rosemary Mair, who have all emerged as real talent, will be looking to showcase their skills at the big stage.

What would be a success at the tournament?

They have the chance to reach final stage of the tournament but all that would depend on how they handle pressure in the big games. "Our goal is to make the final on March 8 at the MCG but we understand that we've got tough opposition and that the tournament is long," captain Devine wrote in a column for the ICC. Moreover, they must look not to be over-dependent on the likes of Bates and Devine. A number of players in the squad, including the star duo, were part of the 2019-20 edition of the WBBL. The side will be hoping the learnings from the tournament, including the familiarity of the Australian conditions, should work to their advantage.