Another ODI at Mt Maunganui between Aotearoa and Sri Lanka only means another game featuring oodles of runs. The Blackcaps got the W, despite Thisara Perera's shenanigans late in the innings to take Sri Lanka close and had a few of his batting comrades (those ahead of him in the order) shown a bit more substance, ol' mate Perera wouldn't have been left with such an audacious task.
We're still in this weird Blackcaps phase of a minor inability to consistently plug yorkers when it matters most, some of which was on display against Perera. All the tricks are attempted, just as all the tricks have previously been attempted however as we have seen from both teams, attempted yorkers turning into low full tosses and/or half-volleys get sent for six. Other than that, things are fairly honki-dory for the bowlers as they have twice had plenty of runs to defend and in both games this has put Sri Lanka under pressure to be aggressive from the start of their innings.
This is exactly what is required for the likes of Ish Sodhi and Jimmy Neesham, who have to be scored off if Sri Lanka are to win. Sodhi thrives in T20 cricket because batsmen have to attack him and when the Blackcaps batsmen have 300+ runs on the board, the scenarios become rather similar. Kusal Mendis was undone trying to cut, while Dinesh Chandimal somehow couldn't pick the wrongie; both of which were complicated by pressure and the angst in not scoring freely.
Mendis finished with a strike-rate of 66.66, Chandimal 25sr and the intriguing batsman from the first ODI Kusal Perera was stuck in the mud with 17.39sr. That's alright-ish if you're building into an innings to chase down 250 or less but when in pursuit of 300+, it's a different game and the bowlers can rely on batsmen losing the plot ... while also obviously bowling well.
Because both games have started with perfect batting innings from the Blackcaps, I'm not comfortable in any grand judgements about the bowlers. In the vacuum of each game, everyone has been delightful and they have been fun games to watch. In terms of learning about bowlers with the World Cup in mind, these bowlers need to be dropped into different situations and game circumstances. Life's good at the moment, but what happens if there are only 200 runs on the board or even the simple switch in bowling first?
As for the batsmen, well everything is equally honki-dory but in the sense of everyone's making a solid impression. Colin Munro has finally put a nice score up and most importantly for me, Munro built an innings as opposed to creaming everything to the boundary. If Munro's facing 77 balls then is pretty mandatory that he'll have a strike-rate over 100 (112.98sr), but like Neesham later on in the innings, Munro relied just as much on working the ball around among hitting boundaries.
You guessed it; I'm still more fascinated about Neesham's batting than his bowling, regardless of what he says or anyone else says. 64 off 37 (172.97sr) and only 38 of those runs came from boundaries as Neesham showcased the ability generate a high strike-rate through singles and two's. That's the value of Neesham in the middle order, or should I say his potential ceiling as he can manipulate the ball around the field and whack bigguns'.
The work of Tim Seifert was also low key impressive, both with his 22 off 17 (129.41sr) and his glove-work. Maybe his ... hmm ... presence in the field as well because it's impossible not to notice Seifert and not just because the stump mic is on full volume, there's an energy to him that feels perfectly suited to Blackcaps ODI cricket.
It's kinda bonkers that the two Blackcaps wicket-keepers (ODI and Tests) come from the same domestic team. BJ Watling was part of the ODI squad that went to United Arab Emirates but is now chillin' and is highly unlikely to feature in a World Cup 1st 11 - maybe a useful squad member though. Seifert is building a nifty case for World Cup selection, while Northern Districts Knights are operating with their third-string wickie Peter Bocock.
And of course, Ross Taylor lives in the bonkers category. 90 off 105 to help rebuild the innings, coming after his swash-buckling 54 in the first game. Coming after scores of 80 and 86* in two games vs Pakistan in UAE and that can only mean that Taylor's last 5inns look like this: 181* (vs England), 80, 86*, 54, 90.
With Kane Williamson as skipper, Taylor is averaging 65.09.
In seven games with Tom Latham as skipper, Taylor is averaging 74.50.
In 94 games in Aotearoa, Taylor is averaging 51.93.
Since the start of 2018, Taylor is averaging 87.
Bow down to King Rossco.
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Peace and love 27.