NZ v Eng

Published on February 25th, 2018 | by Suraj Choudhari

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Taylor’s experience, Latham’s astuteness harbour New Zealand to safety

“Tom Latham joined Taylor in the middle and the task was huge. All the chips were down for New Zealand, they lost key wickets and the asking rate was only on the hike”.

The current English side brim with confidence, they are one of the red hot favourites for the 2019 World Cup. Their transformation into a dominating side has been irresistible. It takes a lot for any side to get the better of this high on confidence England. They keep coming at you, they have superstars in their line-up and hardly gets bogged down in shorter formats.

After losing the Ashes, England gave a testament to their supremacy in ODIs by winning the five-match series 4-1 Down Under. They outplayed World Champions Australia in their own den and dominated the series to merge victorious. New Zealand, on the other hand, did well to make it to the T20 final but lost the battle to Australia. They needed a push in this series with home advantage playing in their favour.

Prior to the start of the series opener at Hamilton, England were clear favourites going into the series. But an all-round performance by New Zealand saw them achieving a 1-0 lead. England bat deep, and have some dominating batsmen in the line-up, New Zealand bowlers did well to restrict them to 284. The momentum of the game swung like a pendulum of a clock, it was filled with intensity and surprises.

England had the bowling to defend this total and started off briskly. At 27 for 3 inside 10 overs, New Zealand were in hot water and needed a massive partnership to swim out of the choppy waters. Not many expected New Zealand to make a comeback after losing three early wickets including the prized scalp of captain Kane Williamson. One of New Zealand’s most prolific run-scorer in ODIs, Ross Taylor, was always going to be the key in this run-chase. New Zealand needed him to step up and deliver a big innings as well as some support from the other end.

Tom Latham joined Taylor in the middle and the task was huge. All the chips were down for New Zealand, they lost key wickets and the asking rate was only on the hike. They not only had to do the repair work but also keep the scoreboard ticking. There was hardly any breathing space and English bowlers were tightening the noose around New Zealand, they needed a quiet partnership to get things going.

The duo confronted the pumped English attack with immense confidence and laid the platform for an incredible win. They took things as they came, kept it simple. There were no big shots but did well to capitalise on loose deliveries. They ran well between the wickets and scored odd boundaries. Taylor brought his experience into play and was equally supported by Latham’s astuteness.

One of the highlights of this partnership was that no batsman was burdened with the run-scoring. The responsibility was equally shouldered by both the batsmen. They achieved one goal after the other and did well to stitch a match-winning 178-run stand in 182 deliveries, further keeping up with the asking rate. They followed the target swiftly and the pressure was transferred back on the English side once these two got going.

Ben Stokes and Eoin Morgan combined well to get the better of Latham on 79 and finally got the breakthrough. Latham cemented his spot in the middle-order with this tenacious innings as this was also his only second fifty-plus score in 32 innings at home. Taylor, on the other hand, continued his spectacular innings and went on to score his 18th ODI century. He is now the third-highest run-scorer in ODIs for New Zealand and also the third Kiwi to have crossed the 7000-run mark.

A fumble in the middle brought England back into the game and the responsibility of carrying the team over the line was now on Taylor’s shoulder. He shifted his gears as per the situation but was outfoxed by Adil Rashid on 113 off 116 deliveries while attempting a big stroke. Mitchell Santner’s blitzkrieg ensured the hard work done by Latham and Taylor did not go futile. This was one of the best returns from New Zealand in ODIs and easily one of the best innings by Taylor under pressure.

The challenge is not yet over as one can expect England to come out all guns blazing in the second encounter. Taylor has been a pillar of strength in the middle-order and provides solid stability with his presence while it’s time Latham starts converting potential into performance at home. He averages 22.83 in 32 innings played at home, which is not acceptable by his standards. This series could be an ideal platform for him to turn the tide and already has a kick start. With New Zealand winning the first encounter, the competition has only spiced up.

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About the Author

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Suraj Choudhari is a freelance sports journalist. He is an avid follower of the game and played the sport at club level. With a radical understanding about the subtle nuances and intricacies of cricket, he tries to express it through paper and pen.



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