The University Oval in Dunedin wasn’t an unfamiliar venue for Ross Taylor’s big achievements. It was here that he notched his highest ODI score (181*) and a venue where he averaged more than 80 coming into the match. For as much as he played down the prospect of overtaking Stephen Fleming’s record of 8007 runs, it was on the cards. And yet, without being over-aggressive, over-cautious or overawed, he played a quintessential Ross Taylor knock to set the base for New Zealand’s 330 for 6.
Put into bat, New Zealand didn’t get off to to a power-start as they had accustomed themselves to so far in the series. Colin Munro wasted yet another opportunity to make a case in a regular XI as he was trapped leg-before in the fifth over of the innings by Mashrafe Mortaza, whose delivery darted back of the seam to catch the southpaw plumb in front.
Martin Guptill, meanwhile, had started well, continuing the form that had helped him bag Player of the Match awards in the first two games of the series. However, six dot deliveries out of eight by Mortaza and Mohammad Saifuddin had slowed down Guptill’s onslaught for a brief while. However, the frustration got to him too early as he desperately tried to hit the latter out of the ground, only to have himself caught by a superb effort from Tamim Iqbal in the deep.
There was everything that batsmen would’ve wanted early on in the pitch – short boundaries, an easy-paced wicket and a less-than threatening new ball attack. And yet, with the hosts reduced to 56 for 2, Henry Nicholls and Taylor curbed the temptation to hit the big shots.
They worked the ball around, plucked singles and twos, and at times, found gaps to score boundaries. There was negligible effort to hit over the in-field or counter aggressively. It made for poor entertainment but as the alliance grew over 50 runs, it was proving to be mighty effective.
It was only after Nicholls brought up his fifty – 8th in ODIs – that the duo decided to shift a gear higher. In a brief period of play between Over 25 to 28, they stroked five boundaries. It also included a cut from Taylor past point which helped him reach 43 and become the second New Zealander to register 8000 ODI runs.
Nicholls tried to shift another gear higher but unsuccessfully. Looking to slog sweep Mehidy Hasan from outside off, he top-edged it to the fielder at deep mid wicket and threw away a good start.
Nonetheless, Taylor ensured the fall of his partner didn’t derail the hosts’ position of comfort in the innings. He carried on in similar fashion in company of stand-in-skipper Tom Latham. Soon into their partnership, Taylor stroked another boundary and brought up his 47th ODI fifty to equal Fleming’s score and then take a single to surpass it. In the process, he became the fourth quickest in the world to achieve the feat after Hashim Amla, Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers. In celebration, the crowd stood up to applaud arguably their greatest 50-over batsman.
Taylor continued to lay the foundation for New Zealand’s innings till the point it needed a bit of acceleration. Having set himself well with a 81-ball 69, he tried to go for a big heave only to be caught at deep mid wicket. However, it wasn’t to be as bad a news for the hosts.
Returning to his former home ground, James Neesham pummelled some mighty hits. Even as he was troubled by Saifuddin’s variations, he smashed three boundaries and two sixes in his 24-ball cameo of 37, adding 65 runs off 40 balls with Latham.
Latham, on the other hand, displayed his ability to get the big runs with some exquisite conventional strokes. He cover drove a few boundaries and flicked a couple out of the ground en route 14th half-century, with Rubel Hossain and Mustafizur Rahman becoming the prime targets of his assault.
Both the left-handers fell in their attempt to go big, but Colin de Grandhomme and Mitchell Santner ensured that the good work by the top order got its due. They hit the big shots and played their small part in the end.
Brief Scores: New Zealand 330/6 in 50 overs (Ross Taylor 69, Henry Nicholls 64; Mustafizur Rahman 2-93, Mehidy Hasan 1-43) vs Bangladesh
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