Fresh off a horrible ODI series vs India, we've got a Blackcaps ODI squad named to take on Bangladesh. There's simply no predicting what sort of challenge Bangladesh will offer as their improvements in recent years and greater depth in talent, is off-set by their historic struggles in Aotearoa. Regardless of what Bangladesh offer, this series will revolve around another looksie at various Blackcaps chasing World Cup selection.
In trying to suss out the thinking behind this squad to face Bangladesh, it became fairly clear that this was a case of extending that looksie window from the Indian series. Jimmy Neesham and Todd Astle are selected, most likely at the expense of Doug Bracewell and Ish Sodhi, as the main funky selections.
This could be viewed as slightly annoying for those who believe that Sodhi should be selected most times, or that Bracewell had just got some regular Blackcaps cricket to his name. For example, I'd love to see Bracewell and Neesham in the same team, especially if Henry Nicholls is opening the batting and Tom Latham is holding down #5. I'd definitely like to see Sodhi enjoy consistent selection to work his way through the challenges of being an ODI leggy.
What counters those thoughts though, is that Neesham and Astle barely did anything in their two games vs India. Astle faced 10 deliveries and Neesham 32, which is purely their fault for not taking their opportunities, however when combined with their bowling usage as Astle bowled 7 overs and Neesham 5.5ov, forms a picture of a small sample size. They are both - understandably - being given every opportunity to see what they can do.
For Sodhi and Bracewell appreciators, this could also represent a vibe of 'we know about them'. Both are also impacted by Mitchell Santner needing more cricket and Colin de Grandhomme being given lifeline after lifeline; which could result in him playing his way out of the squad.
Here's Santner and de Grandhomme's work vs India...
Santner: 39 runs in 3inns @ 13avg/58.20sr.
De Grandhomme: 14 runs in 2inns @ 7avg/87.50sr.
Santner: 20ov in 3inns, 1w @ 95avg/4.75rpo.
De Grandhomme: 25ov in 3inns, 3w @ 34.33avg/5.42rpo.
Both Santner and de Grandhomme were so crap, that there's no choice other giving them games vs Bangladesh to see what they can do. That's a weird idea, but assuming that we may know what to expect from Sodhi and Bracewell, it's now up to Santner, de Grandhomme, Neesham and Astle to do some nice things with bat and ball.
Santner's probably at the top of that list with the most international experience (although he's had a cruisey ride) and Neesham's done fairly well with his chances, so he's next in line. Astle and de Grandhomme are in the most precarious positions and will need to make hefty contributions to boost their stocks.
Martin Guptill also comes back and without Colin Munro for the first two games, it'll be Guppy and Nicholls opening. Guppy needs to stay fit and healthy, while Nicholls has to show some grit, blended in with attacking instincts to make a positive impression. The annoying thing about Munro is that he's not good enough to alter his game to suit the situation and he's confined to 'Munro being Munro'. Nicholls is more well-rounded, with an ability to rotate the strike and deal with good bowling.
With scores of 30* and 8, Nicholls definitely didn't lock down that opening role though. Now he's got a chance to lay the foundation for the Blackcaps innings, feed Guppy the strike and go with the flow of the innings.
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Peace and love 27.