We had been told Brendon McCullum was going to be rested at some stage, and this fixture always seemed the most likely. The narrative was that it gave Williamson a debut captaincy run at home, but it had that other benefit of giving Latham a go at the top of the innings.
All that was to wait though, as Sri Lanka batted first and threatened to score around 325 if you follow Richie Benaud’s “Double at 30 if there are wickets in hand
rule. In fact they were only one down at the stage, and it is a slight worry that New Zealand has never run through the top order in this series.
What has been consistent, however, is that, away from The Big Three, the Sri Lankan batsmen have struggled against the New Zealand bowlers who have often clawed their way back from a spot of bother.
The best indication of this was the batting Power Play. New Zealand used four bowlers during this five over spell. Whether that was trialling the individuals or trailing the tactic itself remains to be seen. Sri Lanka scored 24/2 during that period.
Then the Angst-ometer went bright red. Guptill’s second first baller in the series was one thing, failing to call for a review when he had nicked it was another, and Latham failing to cash in was something else.
There are still four more matches before February 14th but things are getting tight now, and some creative thinking is required to get one of them into form. Expect Latham to keep and bat at number 5 on Saturday.
The rest of the innings was a strange one. A lot of the batsmen looked good, Williamson quietly brought up yet another ODI 50, yet got out when seemingly set.
Ronchi, Anderson, Vettori and Mills all played useful innings, but yet those early wickets were the key.
A 4-2 series win in the end, Those questions and answers still hang out there.
Obviously nobody is going to get the MVP things right so here goes.
- Williamson. Top scored. That’s it
- Ronchi. Played the single innings that came closest to winning it, and took three catches.
- CJA Anderson. His bowling continues to impress, and he got runs too.