New Zealand find brave opener

New Zealand find brave opener

McMillan was pleased with the way New Zealand played spin on the opening day.

By Rituraj Borkakoty (reporter/ Chief Sub Editor)

Published: Tue 18 Nov 2014, 12:28 PM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 9:11 PM

Kane Williamson is clean bowled by Zulfiqar Babar (not in picture). Photo by Shihab/ Khaleej Times

Kane Williamson is clean bowled by Zulfiqar Babar (not in picture). Photo by Shihab/ Khaleej Times

Dubai — The maturity of the 22-year-old Tom Latham impressed New Zealand batting coach Craig McMillan so much that the former middle-order batsman now believes Latham has what it takes to solve the Kiwis’ long-standing problem at the top order in Test cricket.

Latham, who also scored a hundred in the first Test, was immense on the first day of the second Test in Dubai. His brilliant unbeaten 137 in his sixth Test has given the visitors a big hope of posting a formidable total.

However, McMillan was more interested in seeing the bigger picture.

“The top order has been a problem for New Zealand over a number of years, so it’s really good to have someone like Tom in the team,” McMillan said after New Zealand finished the opening day of the second Test at 243/3 at Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Monday.

“He has got a strong defence. And he trusts his defence. He just continued the form he showed in the first Test. Batsmen once they score their first Test hundred feel they belong here. He played really well in the West Indies, got couple of 50s, so that gave him confidence as well.

“Then he played a very important innings in the first Test in Abu Dhabi. Today he was brilliant once again. It was a disciplined innings. He stuck to his game-plan. His patience and concentration level were amazing. The most impressive thing about him was, of course, his defence. But don’t forget that he can also play shots all around the wicket when needed. He rotates the strike very well, which is very, very important in these conditions. So he is a very, very good player.

“And considering what happened in Abu Dhabi, we really needed someone today to deliver at the top order, and Latham did that today quite brilliantly. If you are scoring runs in these conditions against such opposition it means you have an exciting career ahead.”

McMillan was also pleased with the way New Zealand played spin on the opening day. “There are few things we got wrong in the first Test, but it was quite satisfying toady. Whenever you play Pakistan, spin is going to be a major issue. The conditions really suit their bowlers. Latham played the sweep shot really well against the spinners. You need to be patient and scoring opportunities always come along when you defend well,” he said.

The toss, according to the Kiwi batting coach, was not going to be a decisive factor in this match. “Tosses don’t win you matches, but yes they do give you an advantage,” McMillan said.

“Our batsmen today were able to take the advantage of batting first in this Test match. Today we played good cricket, but there is still lot of hard work to be done tomorrow. I know Pakistan would try everything to make a strong comeback. They lost Hafeez, so they were a missing his bowling today. Even then I thought their other bowlers worked really hard today. So we need to make more than 400 runs to give ourselves a good chance in this match.” Pakistan opener Shan Masood, who was given a chance to play after Hafeez got injured, said the pitch didn’t really assist their bowlers. “It was a very good wicket to bat on. Our bowlers tried really hard; they bowled well. But credit must be given to the New Zealand batsmen. They played really well today,” he said.

“Now we have to get some early wickets in the morning to put them under pressure and yes our batsmen will also have to bat really well.”

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