New Zealand are pinning their hopes of being able to come from behind to take the one-day series against England on the recovery of Ross Taylor and reuniting him with Kane Williamson after his magnificent century in Wellington came just short of securing victory.
Mike Hesson, the New Zealand coach, called Williamson’s innings his best in 12 months but lamented some poor batsmanship around him – echoing the views of the captain who said his side didn’t bat smartly – as the middle order subsided against Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid. A stand of 96 between Williamson and Mitchell Santner put New Zealand in a position from where they could have won, but 15 off the last over proved a little too many.
“Once the spinners came on, it was always going to be a challenge starting on that surface – Kane was the only player to get past 50 in the match, so, clearly, starting was difficult – but we lacked the batsmanship required yesterday,” Hesson said. “[The dismissals] were a bit different, some were very poor decision-making; others were a bit of a lack of execution.”
There are positive vibes coming from the New Zealand camp over Taylor, who missed the Wellington match with a quad injury sustained being run out in Mount Maunganui, and having their two finest batsmen back together – and both in form – is much-needed for the Dunedin match on Wednesday. Since returning to the one-day side last year after eye surgery Taylor has averaged 57.27 in ODIs, with three centuries, the most recent in the first match of the series.
“We have some very talented players, such as Mark Chapman, but at the moment they aren’t Ross Taylor,” Hesson said. “It’s looking promising for Ross.”
Unsurprisingly, having returned from a hamstring injury, Williamson reported as feeling “stiff and sore” after being on the field for all but 2.1 overs in Wellington, but there are currently no concerns around him for Dunedin with the extra day between matches working in his and Taylor’s favour.”That’s probably the best Kane has played in 12 months in terms of the way he stuck to his game plan form ball one,” Hesson said. “As the only player to pass fifty suggests it was an outstanding innings. To get us to a point where we had a chance to win was testament to his quality.”
The one aspect of Williamson’s performance that raised a few eyebrows was his use of Santner for only two overs with his left-arm spin. Instead, Colin Munro bowled eight overs; Williamson’s decision perhaps swayed by Colin de Grandhomme’s miserly spell of 10 overs for 24 runs and the presence of left-handers in the middle for the majority of the innings.