Today, Aotearoa's Blackcaps take on India in the fourth ODI with the series already on it's way into the cricketing heavens. All that's left in the remaining two games is to suss out a few players in different situations and hopefully, ideally, see a few lads rack up wickets and runs merely for confidence-building purposes.
There is no point now having a whinge or great investigation into why the Blackcaps lost the series in the first three games. We roll forward and in the grand scheme, regardless of what India do with their team selections and any drop in the pressure/intensity of these two games, the kiwi players will either be hunting that splash of form and dose of confidence, or they will be looking to make a mark.
Which brings me to Todd Astle and Jimmy Neesham, who return to the squad for these two remaining games at the expense of Ish Sodhi and Doug Bracewell. I won't even call this a yarn, because my yarns are full-hundies yarns, this is more of a note about the inclusions of Astle and Neesham; a bit of clarity around their selections.
Prior to the series, when the squad was announced for the series, coach Gaz stated that Astle and Neesham would come into the squad for the last two games.
That was before the series, before any of this bullkaka went down. So, we can understand that what happened in the first three games didn't really matter with regards to bringing in Astle and Neesham. Maybe, what happened would impact the players who made way for Astle and Neesham.
I reckon it didn't though and I'd suggest to refrain from using the word 'dropped' when talking about Sodhi and Bracewell. My gut feel is that this is more a case of 'we know what you can do and cheers, keep doing that in the Super Smash'. Sodhi and Bracewell had a massive opportunity in the first three games, they got the first crack and got that crack in the games that (in hindsight this ain't cool) set the tone for the series. Now, it's Astle and Bracewell.
Sodhi and Bracewell, weren't amazing, nor were they the worst kiwis from those three games. They had moments of lovely cricket and as we've seen from this Indian group, any slither of familiarity and they can destroy you. Sodhi has performed especially well under coach Gaz and should have earned a few herb-brownie points moving forward, while all the discussion around Bracewell out of the Blackcaps hierarchy zoned in on his batting and Bracewell showed he's genuinely capable of playing that role.
Think of Santner as well here, because he needs more time to flex. We have one spinner who needs more game time and another who has been doing the job for the three series'; who do you think will make way for the third spinner to get their chance?
Then think of those around Bracewell. Colin de Grandhomme wasn't flash in his appearance and coach Gaz will want to see more of him, plus Santner and Astle are both viewed as spinning all-rounders who could bat in those #7/8 spots.
Youz know how I'm cautious in comparing T20 numbers to ODI numbers, however Neesham and Astle are coming in from Super Smash cricket so that's all I can really do.
Neesham: 4inns, 50runs @ 12.50avg/142.85sr.
Astle: 2inns, 30runs @ 30avg/103.44sr.
Neesham: 4inns, 14ov, 7w @ 16.72avg/8.35rpo.
Astle: 4inns, 14ov, 2w @ 60.50avg/8.64rpo.
That's the form these two are bringing into the Blackcaps ODI squad. Now we get to see if they play, how they fit in and what they do with their little window of opportunity.
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Peace and love 27.