IBP XI v NZ, 2nd warm-up game Review: Ross Taylor & Tom Latham boost NZ's confidence

IBP XI v NZ, 2nd warm-up game Review: Ross Taylor & Tom Latham boost NZ’s confidence

Twin tons from Taylor and Latham sealed the victory for New Zealand.

Ross Taylor of New Zealand
Ross Taylor of New Zealand. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

The one team that all the skippers of the international cricket teams would try to avoid playing against at the moment is India. And if the series is contested at the happy hunting grounds of Virat Kohli’s men, then one must be aware of the treatment the opposition would receive. However, there was little Kane Williamson could do about when the series was announced, except boosting his and his team’s confidence before the crucial series. That part of the job was carried out well by Ross Taylor and Tom Latham yesterday (October 19).

After losing the first practice match against Indian Board President’s XI, the kiwis were desperate to find some success before the actual series started. Winning the toss, Williamson decided to bat first, and the destructive opening duo of Martin Guptill and Colin Munro gave the team a good start. But two wickets in a span of as many runs, that too in the form of dependable batters like Colin Munro and Kane Williamson pushed the blackcaps in the back seat again.

Twin centuries seal the deal

Just when Ross Taylor was building a partnership with Guptill, in-form bowler Karn Sharma dismissed the latter to change the complexion of the game one more time. At 73/3, it seemed that New Zealand’s same old problem still persisted, and it’s high time that they start building match-winning partnerships. Taylor and Latham answered to the call, and centuries from both left opposition skipper Shreyas Iyer baffled.

Known for his calm and composed batting. Taylor’s quickfire 102 from just 83 deliveries was something Iyer didn’t see coming. To rub salt on his wounds, Latham scored 108 runs to take the game away from the team from down under. Putting enough runs on the board, the duo left retired hurt to let the big-hitters Henry Nicholls and Colin de Grandhomme have a swing at the ball, which Nicholls eventually did but Colin didn’t. Nicholls received the support from all-rounder Mitchell Santner. While the former’s 24 was commendable, the latter’s 29 in no time was extraordinary, as it took New Zealand’s total to 343.

Chasing a big total, Iyer’s team had a good start as well, courtesy Prithvi Shaw and Karun Nair. Though he has very little experience, but going by his form, one would put his bet on Shaw if IBP XI were to win this game. Hence when he was dismissed for just 22, the hopes in the camp were dampened a little. They were further diminished when highly-rated batter Rishabh Pant disappeared after scoring just 7 runs.

Iyer-Nair partnership kept the game alive

But skipper Iyer, alongside Karun Nair settled the ship again. Till now, both pf the innings were quite analogous- good start, then few wickets in a quick interval and then again a good partnership. But this is when IBP lost their two main men in two consecutive deliveries, and they realised they don’t have a Taylor or a Latham to finish off the game. Thus, floodgates were opened for the flow of wickets as Milind Kumar and Shivam Chaudhary could hardly stay for a few balls.

Unadkat fights back

But the game was from over and Kane knew it well. Gurkeerat Singh Mann provided a ray of hope, which was amplified further from time to time, by Karn Sharma, Dhawal Kulkarni and finally Jaydev Unadkat. While Mann perished after scoring 65, Unadkat’s 44 from just 24 deliveries came down as a blow of hammer for the kiwis. The last thing Williamson would have wanted is to see a giant of a target getting reduced to a dwarf by a number 10 batter.

Thankfully for him, Matt Henry came to the rescue and Unadkat’s dismissal meant the game was all but over. Kulkarni’s dismissal was the last nail in the coffin, as the kiwis got some much-needed confidence while the young and talented Indians got some much needed experience. If it was Taylor-Latham duo in batting which did the trick for New Zealand, the bowling department was controlled by the Santner-Munro spin twins.

Latham and Taylor’s heroics are bound to solve the middle-order dilemma for Kane, but he still has some worries regarding his openers. As of the bowling department is concerned, he would certainly want more efforts from the pace department. All said and done, we now have our eyes fixed on 22nd October, where the kiwis will face a high-flying India, here at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.

Brief scores

New Zealand – 343/9 (Tom Latham 108 retired out, Ross Taylor 102 retired out; Jaydev Unadkat 4/57)

IBP XI – 310/10 (Gurkeerat Singh Mann 65, Karun Nair 53; Mitchell Santner 3/44)

New Zealand won by 33 runs