“New Zealand are the only side to have won their first two games in World Cup 2019 and they cannot keep winning matches with just two batsmen making a significant contribution”
New Zealand, on paper, looks one of the most complete sides in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019. They justified it with their performance in their opening encounter where they crushed Sri Lanka by 10 wickets in Cardiff. But, when they faced Bangladesh in their second match at the Oval, they were struck with the bitter reality, yet again.
After New Zealand restricted Bangladesh to 244 on Wednesday at the Oval, New Zealand lost both the openers in 10 overs. They once again needed their best to step and their formidable three-four combination of Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor did not disappoint.
New Zealand had a decent outing with the ball and things were under control with the bat as well when Taylor and Williamson were at the crease and the Kiwis needed 84 to win.
Taylor, who has been outshining his current skipper in terms of consistency and average in the ODIs, recently became the first New Zealander to register 20 ODI centuries and also surpassed Stephen Flemming as BlackCaps’ leading ODI run-scorer. Against Bangladesh, in a pressure situation, Taylor justified the faith the team and management have shown in him and yet again put himself apart from his national competitor.
It is not a hidden fact anymore that the BlackCaps are heavily dependent on their captain and former captain, Williamson, and Taylor, in the batting department. Both the batsmen have been in great touch since New Zealand reached the final of last World Cup in 2015.
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Taylor and Williamson have scored 16 and 15.76 percent of New Zealand’s ODI runs respectively in the last four years. While Williamson has accumulated as many as 2,908 ODI runs, Taylor has been in the form of his life having entered the top three of the ICC players rankings.
Ahead of the World Cup 2019, Taylor was placed sixth in the list of most prolific batsmen in the ODIs over the last four years with Indian captain Virat Kohli as the leader. Taylor had played fewer matches than everyone else above him and his average of 68.85 was second best to just Kohli’s 78.29. In fact, Taylor took close to a year to touch this form. His inconsistency post the World Cup did not end overnight. He found solutions to his irksome issues when he finally decided to go under the knife to remove a pterygium, a benign growth, that was affecting the vision in his left eye.
On Tuesday, it was Taylor and Williamson’s 105-run stand that rescued New Zealand and put them right into the match. Williamson’s innings was brought to an end at 72-ball 40 but Taylor marched on. Until these two were at the crease, there was a sense of calmness and assurance in the Kiwi camp but as soon as the skipper departed the rest of the line-up panicked and threw away their wickets in an unacceptable manner. New Zealand needed hardly five an over and the batters could have chosen not to play risky big hits.
The likes of Jimmy Neesham and Tom Latham were caught at the boundary and Colin de Grandhomme was caught while attempting a needless shot over the ‘keeper and that showed their irresponsible approach that eventually complicated the side’s run chase, otherwise which would have been a cake walk.
This has been New Zealand’s pattern for a while. Following Taylor and Williamson’s wickets, the rest of the batsmen more than often fail to step up and that results into a near loss or a loss, on most occasions. In the last four years, after the senior two batters, the next best has been Martin Guptill, who has been on par with the other two in terms of scoring runs.
But, the opening batsman lacks consistency and that usually hurts the side. Guptill, who scored an unbeaten 73 in New Zealand’s World Cup opener against Sri Lanka, has to shoulder responsibility. Moreover, he has done well in the past in England. He has scored 652 runs at 46.5 with a strike-rate of 97.31, including an unbeaten 189 from 155 balls.
Latham, on the other hand, has been a part of some excellent chases in recent times for New Zealand. It is his first time in England in the ODIs but he has enough experience to step up whenever he is needed to. He has been one of the most versatile players in the side as he can bat at any asked position and that shows the amount of confidence he carries. In the last two games, he did not bat and scored a duck respectively and the BlackCaps will want Latham to introspect and find solutions ahead of their third World Cup match, which is against Afghanistan.
New Zealand are the only side to have won their first two games in World Cup 2019 and they cannot keep winning matches with just two batsmen making a significant contribution. In order to continue their winning streak, the team has to look beyond Williamson and Taylor in the batting department.