Former India captain Rahul Dravid, the wall, has rated co-hosts New Zealand as “serious contenders” for the upcoming cricket World Cup starting February 14.

He said during a special world cup buildup show on ESPN, “I think they’ve got a really really good pace attack. That’s why you look at them and you think these guys are one of the serious contenders.”

Not treated among the front runners earlier, New Zealand are now being described as among the favourites and Dravid truly believes that the home pressure will not weigh too much on the Black Caps. Describing the reason behind this notion, he said, “I think with New Zealand it’s a much smaller country, sure they’ll expect their team to do well but you’re not going to talk about winning straightaway. I think the pressure is going to be less on the New Zealand players.”

Underlining the importance of leadership in cricket, Dravid – an expert analyst – feels that Brendon McCullum has the quality to inspire the Kiwis. He narrated, “Under pressure when you need someone to make that key tactical change, that key intervention that can actually turn the game, you’d back him (Brendon McCullum) to do it because he’s been in that position before, he’s been someone who has experienced it all.”

Given the meticulous performance shown by  Kane Williamson’s during  the ongoing series against Sri Lanka, New Zealand have shown their ‘might’ and Dravid who himself was an established number 3 batsman, had all praise for the No.3 batsman’s rise. He added, “He’s really creative, he’s got some really good shots. Because he can score quickly without actually looking like he’s taking risks, he’s actually a good classical batsman who is able to find the gaps, hit good cricketing shots, he’s got good consistency as well.”

In the opinion of Dravid, Tim Southee also has the potential to match the best of the best and Dravid is impressed with the pace spearhead’s wicket-taking ways which can proved to be an X-factor for his team. Dravid explained, “Good control of the yorker under pressure. I think that’s one of the things about Tim Southee. That’s a critical ball to be able to bowl at the back end and we all know that that’s the obvious thing but it’s an extremely hard ball to execute under pressure.”

Also underlining Daniel Vettori’s invaluable presence in the team, Dravid, who had himself played a reasonable bit of cricket against the left-handed all-rounder, said that nothing can replace experience. He concluded, “Whether he can stay fit through the tournament and how they’ll have to nurse him through the tournament will be interesting to see but there is no doubt that he brings quality and he brings experience to the table, which you cannot buy at a supermarket.”

Although New Zealand will be playing at home, their record in the knockout rounds of the world cup is quite poor. They will certainly hope to change it.

    Established sports writer across various global platforms

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