Today I want to reflect upon the career of one of my all-time favorite players, Ross Taylor. We will discuss it all—the achievements, the struggles, my favorite memories, and ultimately what we can learn from him.
But you ask, why am I talking about Ross Taylor all of a sudden?
Well for once, he has been in the news recently.
Last month, he suffered from a calf strain, which cast a slight doubt on his place for the Test series against England and the much awaited World Test Championship final.
In the last year, Taylor has already been dropped from the T20I side for the likes of Devon Conway & Glenn Phillips.
New Zealand cricket is now a powerhouse. Across the three formats, their record is spectacular:
Semi-finalists: 2007 & 2011 ODI World Cup; 2007 & 2016 T20 World Cups
Runners-Up:2009 Champions Trophy; 2015 & 2019 ODI World Cup finals
Finalists:Inaugural World Test Championship Final
This is surely New Zealand’s greatest cricketing generation, and great teams are built upon the contributions of exceptional individuals.
Post the Martin Crowe era, New Zealand’s performances were inconsistent until the Stephen Fleming generation. With a side consisting of Fleming, Daniel Vettori, Nathan Astle, Craig McMillan, Jacob Oram, Scott Styris, and the feisty Brendon McCullum, the Black Caps began to generate consistent performances.
Fast forward fifteen years, New Zealand have transformed from a team that ‘perennially punches-above-their-weight’ to serious ‘contenders.’
The Brendon McCullum-Kane Williamson generation has unearthed heroes like ODI double centurion Martin Guptill, superman Grant Elliot, American-bound Corey Anderson, steadiness of Tom Latham & Henry Nicholls, the all-round power of Colin de Grandhomme, Jimmy Neesham, Kyle Jamieson, & the Mitchells (Daryll and Santner), spin-guile of Ish Sodhi, and the depth with incoming youngsters like Conway-Phillips-Will Young-Tim Seifert-Tom Blundell.
From the land of dibbly-dobblies to the genuine pace regime consisting of Southee-Boult-Henry-Jamieson-Wagner-Ferguson-Milne, the transformation is complete.
One man was a constant that connected the Fleming and Williamson generations. From the promising youngster in 2006 to the calm senior in 2021, across 4 ODI World Cups, he has seen it all. The name is Luteru Ross Poutoa Lote Taylor, the second cricketer of Samoan descent to play for New Zealand.
When things are all said and done, Taylor will go down as the best #4 ODI batsman of all time.
Ross Taylor at #4
To put this in perspective, at #4, Taylor has the (1) most runs, (2) most centuries, (3) most 50+ scores, (4) second highest individual score after Vivian Richards’ 189*, and (5) second highest average after AB De Villiers of course (with at least 100 ODIs).
His international career as a whole is not that bad either.
Ross Taylor’s career stats
Taylor’s career can be broken down into three phases—(1) swashbuckling slog-sweeper, (2) responsible middle order batsman, (3) and absolute world dominator.
His averages between 2017-2020: 60.50, 91.28, 55.47, 99.00. 6 hundreds, 19 fifties. Brilliant.
Ross Taylor Records In a Nutshell
1st cricketer to play 100+ matches in each international format.
3rd most catches combined (340) behind only Mahela Jayawardene & Ricky Ponting
Most capped player (440) for New Zealand across formats
Highest run scorer, most hundreds, and most fifties for New Zealand in ODIs
Highest run scorer in Tests, second most hundreds after Kane Williamson
3 double centuries in Tests
3 consecutive ODI centuries – 112* Vs India, 102 Vs India, 105* Vs Pakistan (2014)
6 consecutive ODI fifties – 181*, 80, 86*, 54, 90, 137 (2018-19) Vs England, Pakistan, Sri Lanka
My first memory of Ross Taylor was in that magnificent 2006-07 series vs Australia, one of the best ODI series of that era. The Kiwis whitewashed Australia 3-0 scoring 340 & 350 respectively in successful chases. These were the days where chasing 270 was considered a difficult task.
Next came IPL 2009. I was already a fan of the 2009 RCB team – stalwarts Rahul Dravid & Anil Kumble, Robin Uthappa, and youngsters Manish Pandey & Virat Kohli. Finisher Ross Taylor just took RCB to the next level, one of their key players taking Royal Challengers Bangalore to their first final.
At the halfway stage, the required rate hovered around 11. What came next was pure genius. With 52 needed off 24, Taylor unleashed five slog-sweeping sixes against the likes of fast bowlers Ishant Sharma and Ajit Agarkar. RCB won by 4 balls to spare. He would play a couple of more cameos in 2009, including a player of the match performance in the Champions League.
In the next few seasons, Taylor would play steady knocks for Rajasthan Royals and Delhi Daredevils, but his T20 form never reached the heights of that 2009 season again.
One of Taylor’s sweetest moments came on his 27th birthday in the 2011 Cricket World Cup at Pallekele, when Kamran Akmal’s dropped catches and an array of full tosses literally gifted him a memorable birthday present.
He would make the most of this opportunity. After slowly rebuilding to 69* (108), what followed was carnage. He ended up scoring 131* (124) with 7 sixes. Carving away off-side yorkers, slogging leg-sided deliveries into the stand, and thrashing Shoaib Akhtar, Abdul Razzaq, and Shahid Afridi, this was Taylor at his best. In the last six overs, NZ scored 114 and gave Pakistan their only loss of the group stage.
Taylor was going through a lean patch in 2014-2015. Although he had a few 30s and 40s, questions were being asked on his place in the Test squad. On a flat track in Perth (when does that ever happen?), Taylor made the most of his opportunities, scoring a brilliant 290 & 36* with a 265-run partnership with Kane Williamson. That would be the end of Mitchell Johnson’s career.
Ross Taylor saved his best (thus far) against England at Dunedin in 2018. Chasing 336, New Zealand were reduced to 2-2 in 3 overs. Then he mastered a chase….on one leg.
When Taylor was 107, he ran for a two and dove to reach the crease in time. In the process, he injured himself. New Zealand still needed 116 from 13 overs. Since he could not run twos, for the last ten overs it was all stand-and-deliver stuff. The fact that he stayed in and remained unbeaten just blows my mind.
With healthy support from Williamson, de Grandhomme, and Henry Nicholls as well as a 187-run partnership with Tom Latham, NZ’s third highest successful run chase (after that 2006-07 Australia series) was complete. Following tradition, it was a day before his 34th birthday.
Here are some of the commentary clips from Taylor’s innings. Just dominated all across the park.
“Pull over long leg… Swung over long on… Flicked… Slaps it to point boundary…Swats it powerfully…Beats deep square… Carts it over deep mid-wicket… Over backward point… Beats third man… Conventional sweep… Through extra cover! Out of the ground.“
Definitely a candidate for the best ODI innings in a chase of all-time. Epic.
My favorite Taylor innings by far.
India Vs New Zealand 2019
One criticism of this New Zealand generation is not being able to lift the elusive trophy after seven ICC knockouts opportunities in the last 15 years.
Taylor himself had not played a match defining innings in a high-profile game apart from a few steady 40s here and there (I believed in the 2015 World Cup Final when Elliot-Taylor had ‘rescued’ NZ to 150 in 35 overs. In came James Faulkner for the final powerplay, dismissed Taylor off the first ball, and took the game away. Dreams crushed.)
In the 2019 Cricket World Cup semi-final, he finally came to the party. 74 (90) might not seem too much, but in the context of a slow pitch & disciplined bowling attacks, this was a precious little innings, keeping NZ’s middle order together.
Unfortunate that his innings ended with a direct hit from Ravindra Jadeja, but by then, NZ had pushed to a competitive total.
With the exception of McCullum-Guptill, New Zealand have often rotated through their openers resulting in frequent top-order collapses and slow starts. This brings in Taylor and Williamson in the game to do what they do best—read the situation, soak in the pressure, nudge it for singles and doubles, dab down to third man, flick it off the hip.
Next thing you know, the innings is halfway done, wickets are in hand, and the acceleration has begun. Standard Williamson-Taylor template.
The thing is they seem to do it over and over….and over…again. Astonishing consistency.
At the peak of his batting form, Ross Taylor was handed captaincy after an interview process, narrowly edging out Brendon McCullum. His two year tenure ended unceremoniously. Post a disastrous 2012 T20 World Cup and a tour of Sri Lanka, Taylor was sacked unceremoniously as captain from all three formats, without proper communication, especially from coach Mike Hesson. Putting this aside, he fought through and scored 142 & 74 against Sri Lanka.
He took a break from the game and skipped the subsequent tour of South Africa. New Zealand folded for 45 against Steyn-Philander-Morne Morkel and lost the first test by an innings and 27 runs. This match would be the catalyst for McCullum to compete in an ultra aggressive approach that catapulted them to the 2015 World Cup final. Taylor was selected back into the side as the trio put their differences aside.
The 290 at the WACA is special, but you know what is more special? Scoring that many runs against the pace of Josh Hazlewood & the Mitchells—Johnson, Starc, Marsh without a functioning eye.
He had to have a surgery in 2016 to remove the pterygium in his eye. This probably gave him that extra bit of timing that sparked the second wind in his career and elongated his career.
Apart from being a Black Cap legend and a critical thinker of the game, Martin Crowe was a mentor to the current crop of players in the New Zealand side, especially Martin Guptill and Ross Taylor. Crowe lost a tough battle with cancer in 2016, which impacted them both tremendously. After Taylor went past Crowe’s all-time Test record and closed in on his 100th test, Taylor could not hold his tears back in a press conference.
In his own words, Crowe was “New Zealand’s best ever Test batsman, best ever cricketing brain, a genius, and someone that inspired thousands of Kiwis and thousands of people overseas as well.”
End of his T20 career?
Ross Taylor was dropped from the T20I squad last year due to scintillating performances from Devon Conway and Glenn Phillips. He needs to re-invent his T20 game if he has any chance of resurrecting his T20I career. Since the upcoming T20 World Cup allows a squad of 23, I think he might just find a place.
What We Can Learn From Ross Taylor & the New Zealand team?
New Zealand Cricket Team: Camaraderie & Team Spirit Galore
Why are the Kiwis everybody’s second favorite team? Is it just because of the 2019 World Cup Final and the obsession with captain Kane Williamson’s smile? Umm…maybe.
Or is it because of the talent among the group? Possibly. Maybe it is due to the aggressive approach installed by McCullum’s captaincy? Maybe, maybe not.
Above all, I believe it is the due to the camaraderie between the players in the New Zealand team. Although Kane Williamson is the star of the team, he acts just like a core member and nothing more. Tim Southee is happy to relinquish his place for in-form Matt Henry and instead take diving catches as a substitute fielder. BJ Watling is going out but has given his complete support to Tom Blundell, the next in line.
This is exactly what this New Zealand team is all about. Actually, this is what sport is about. Give it your all, play aggressively on the field, respect the opposition, live & die for each member of your team.
This quote below encapsulates the dynamic within the Black Caps unit.
Ross Taylor’s Legacy: Stable, Steady, Responsible
One of the most popular cricketing social media question is, “Is Ross Taylor the most underrated batsman of our era?” First of all, I am not a huge fan of these pointless clichés like ‘underrated,’ overrated,’ ‘unluckiest,’ etc., etc.
Anyway, in my books, Taylor will go down as one of the all-time greats of our game. To do what Taylor has done for how long he has done it is truly remarkable. It turns out that slow and steady actually does win you the race.
Will Ross Taylor be remembered as talented as Sir Vivian Richards or the recently retired with confirmation, AB De Villiers? Was he as technically adept as Williamson and the Fab 5? Did he have the exquisite timing of Hashim Amla or the free-flowing nature of Mohammad Yousuf?
It all depends on your point of view, but one thing is for certain—Taylor is the glue that kept New Zealand together for so many years.
What can you learn from his life and apply to yours?
Dependability – In case of a crisis, you could always depend on Ross Taylor. It might not pay off every time, but he had the uncanny ability of turning gloomy situations into positive ones. Not only as a batsman, his role as a trusted slip fielder as well.
Be dependable. Regardless of what is going around on you, internally or externally, try to weather the storm. Once you overcome the obstacle, lend out a hand and help someone else out in need.
Balance – Once Taylor rescued NZ from precarious situation, he knew when to accelerate and who to turn the strike to.
Be self-aware. Known your limitations and balance your life accordingly. Too much of anything is harmful. Learn how to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Responsibility – Taylor curbed his natural gameplay and transformed from a slogger to an accumulator to suit his side’s needs. In order to accommodate the firepower at the top & the lower order, somebody needed to take the responsibility and be that insurance policy.
Be responsible. Sometimes giving up your own personal comfort for others around you is the way to go. Follow your dreams, but also combine it with a slight dose of practicality.
There is probably no better match than Ross Taylor & the New Zealand cricket team, or shall I say they are tailor-made for each other (bad joke, sorry 😅). His responsible character gelled perfectly into the team spirit.
What will I remember the most? The tongue celebration, his bent stance, hard bottom-hand grip, the slog sweeps, and the numerous partnerships, and the calm demeanor.
I will leave you with a smiling picture of Ross Taylor. Because why not.
When things are all said and done, Kane Williamson will probably be regarded as the greatest New Zealand batsman of all time. Yet, for New Zealand cricket to get to this point, players like Martin Crowe, Ross Taylor, Stephen Fleming, Daniel Vettori, and Brendon McCullum, have played their parts.
How Good is the New Zealand Cricket Team?
Ranked #1 in ODIs, #2 in Tests, and #3 in T20Is according to the latest ICC rankings (2021), the New Zealand cricket team is definitely one of the best going around. The fact that they have qualified for 8 different semi-finals or finals in the last 15 years across the formats makes this generation of New Zealand team one of their bests ever.
Is Ross Taylor an Underrated Cricketer?
Ross Taylor is one of the unsung heroes of New Zealand cricket, but he will go down as one of the all-time greats of our game. To do what Taylor has done for how long he has done it is truly remarkable. It turns out that slow and steady does actually win you the race.
What makes Ross Taylor such a special cricketer?
Taylor’s ability to read the situation makes him such a special cricketer. Knows exactly when to attack and when to soak in the pressure.
What was Taylor’s highest score in one day cricket?
Taylor’s highest score is 181* in a run-chase in Dunedin (2018) against England. Second highest score in a successful run chase.
What is Ross Taylor’s Birthday?
Ross Taylor was born on March 8th, 1984 (8/27/1984).
Why does Ross Taylor stick his tongue out when he scores a century?
Taylor’s unique celebration can be credited to his daughter, Mackenzie. It is a tradition that started during his ODI hundred against Australia in 2007 and “made her happy.” He continues his famous tongue-poking celebration to this day and even passed on the tradition to his son, Jonty.
Tribute to Other Cricket Legends
Thank you all for reading! Really appreciate it.
If you like these stories about cricket legends, check these some of my earlier featured articles below:
Rahul Dravid: What Rahul Dravid Taught Me?
MS Dhoni & SK Raina: Retirement: An End of an Era
Shakib-Rahim-Iqbal-Mortaza-Mahmudullah:Why Shakib And Co Are the True Fab 5 of this Era?
Lasith Malinga: The Slinga, Slayer, and Superstar
Ellyse Perry: What Can Ellyse Perry Not do?
Dean Jones: A Celebration of Life
AB De Villiers & Faf Du Plessis: Can Faf Fulfill the Broken Dream of ABD?
Umar Gul: The Magician With the Yorker
Sam Curran: Why the World Needs Same Curran: Calm, Charismatic, Courageous
Joe Denly & Joe Biden: The Importance of Being Joe
Nicholas Pooran: A Story of Pain, Hope, & Inspiration: The Next Big Thing of West Indies & World Cricket
Australia Vs New Zealand 2021 Series Review. This series was competitive with a 3-2 result, although every match was more-or-less one-sided.
Several memorable moments though with the return of Martin Guptill’s sweet timing, Conway’s run of form, Jamieson’s rude awaking after IPL auction glory, Finch & Maxwell’s show, Ashton Agar & Ish Sodhi’s magic, & finally the spin experiment of Chapman-Phillips (wicketkeeper).
Positives for both sides with this series. New Zealand have solidified their batting order, while Australia had the chance to experiment with Big Bash performers since the South Africa-Australia series was controversially cancelled (Hence, no Smith, Warner, Cummins for this series).
Here is my series review—Results, stats, highlights, T20I World Cup squad predictions, awards, and much more!
Martin Guptill – 218 runs (best of 97, 2-50s, 59.12 SR)
Aaron Finch – 197 runs (best of 79*, 2-50s, SR 134.01)
Ish Sodhi – 13 wickets (best of 4/28, 12.07 average, 8.26 economy)
Ashton Agar – 8 wickets (best of 6/30, 14.62 average, 6.88 economy)
Australia Vs New Zealand 2021 T20I Series Stats
Martin Guptill was on the verge of being dropped. In the first T20I, even Brendon McCullum on commentary suggested this is a huge series for Guptill (only for the commentator’s curse to take place—Guptill dismissed for duck). What followed was a magnificent 97 which made him the leading six hitter in all of T20I cricket. He followed it up with 43 & 71 later in the series. Watch out—this version of Guptill could be even more dangerous.
Devon Conway continues to rise through the ranks. Hit a 99* in the first T20I. An average of 52.28 at 145.23 with 3 50s in his first 11 matches. He is here to stay and may even receive an ODI cap soon.
Ish Sodhi has never completely realized his potential. Even with leg spinners dominating international cricket for the last decade, he was always in and out of the side. A Player of the Series performance & upcoming World T20I in India should guarantee his spot in the XI.
IPL discard Aaron Finch showed why is the best T20I batsman in the world. After NZ led 2-0 in the 5 match series, knocks of 69, 79*, and 36 displayed his tough character.
Australia have a balanced squad with 2 spinning allrounders, Glenn Maxwell & Ashton Agar. Both came to the party in the 3rd T20I. Maxwell, a revelation in international cricket over the past 12 months, scored an impactful 70 (31), while Agar broke the New Zealand chase with a spell of 6/30.
Josh Philippe was the find of the series for me. Although he had already made a name for himself in the Big Bash, he finally shone at the international level providing quick starts of 45 (34) & 43 (27). Pressure on Matthew Wade when David Warner returns? (although he did score a decent 44 (29)).
We like to spice things up with our own awards for the series. Here they are:
Watch Out For
Finn Allen. Just 21 years of age, he averages 48.81 with 183.27 strike rate in domestic T20. With 6 fifties in 13 innings & a best of 92*, there are talks of him being fast-tracked for the Kiwis. With Guptill solidifying his spot & Seifert-Conway-Phillips all but certain, Allen’s prospects may have closed the door for Ross Taylor’s T20I return.
We are doing a World T20 Watch from now till the T20I world cup next year. Here is our predicted T20 XI line up and a 16-men squad as of now based on this series. Several ifs and buts at this point, but it will get clearer along the journey.
Since the T20 World Cup is scheduled in India, several spin options are considered.
New Zealand 2021 World T20 Squad – Prediction
Finn Allen is slowly rising through the domestic ranks. He was picked as an injury backup for RCB, although he has not made his international debut yet.
Martin Guptill, 2. Tim Seifert (WK), 3. Kane Williamson*, 4. Glenn Phillips, 5. Devon Conway, 6. Jimmy Neesham, 7. Mitchell Santner, 8. Tim Southee, 9. Trent Boult, 10. Lockie Ferguson, 11. Ish Sodhi
Squad: 12. Colin de Grandhomme, 13. Finn Allen/Ross Taylor/Mark Chapman, 14. Kyle Jamieson/Hamish Bennett, 15. Blair Tickner/Jacob Duffy, 156 Doug Bracewell/Scott Kuggeleijn/Adam Milne
Australia 2021 World T20 Squad – Prediction
I will put Steve Smith on the bench and start with Philippe. Several options for Australia, but time running out to settle their squad.
David Warner, 2. Aaron Finch*, 3. Josh Philippe (WK), 4. Glenn Maxwell, 5. Marcus Stoinis, 6. Ashton Agar, 7. Mitchell Marsh, 8. Pat Cummins, 9. Daniel Sams/Jason Behrendoff/Mitchell Starc, 10. Josh Hazlewood/James Pattinson, 11. Adam Zampa
Squad: 12. Steve Smith, 13. Matthew Wade (WK)/ Alex Carey (WK), 14. Jhye Richardson/Riley Meredith/Sean Abbott, 15. Kane Richardon/Andrew Tye, 16. Cameron Green/Moises Henriques
Wildcards: Marnus Labuschagne, Ben McDermott (WK), D’Arcy Short, Andrew Tye, Tanveer Sangha, Ashton Turner, Nathan Lyon
Where Do They Go From Here?
New Zealand travel to Bangladesh for 3 T20Is and 3 ODIs, starting March 19th. Several of the players will stay for IPL 2021. Finally, in July the Test squad will travel to England for 2 Test matches as well as the (not) much awaited WTC final.
Australia meanwhile are done for now till the World T20 later this year (unless fixtures are added). They won the ODI series against India 2-1, but went on to lose the T20I series 1-2, Test series 1-3, & this series 2-3. Also had the controversial South Africa series cancelled. Time for some much needed rest.
What did you think about the Australia Vs New Zealand 2021 series? What are your World T20 line ups? COMMENT BELOW, and let us know what you think!
Image Courtesy: Martin Guptill – YellowMonkey/Blnguyen, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
India Vs South Africa Women 2021 Series Preview—finally some progress in women’s cricket in India.
Earlier, we explored why Nobody Cares About Women’s Cricket. The Indian men have played a 60 day IPL, had a complete tour of Australia, and is now hosting England for a full series. On the other hand, Indian women have played half-a-week long T20 Challenge. That is it. No training either until recently. This will be India’s first assignment since the World T20 Final on March 8th, 2020.
Meanwhile South Africa women are coming on back of a 3-0 ODI & 2-1 T20I victory against Pakistan at home. Here is a preview of the 5 ODI & 3 T20I match tour between India and South Africa. Here is what you should expect, the big surprises in team selection, the squads, and our series prediction.
When and Where?
Here are the dates and the venue for the India Vs South Africa Women series.
Mithali Raj, the highest run scorer in Women’s ODI cricket, is just 85 runs shy of 10,000 international runs across formats (6888 ODI, 2364 T20I, 663 Tests). After 487 days away from national duty, she will back trying to take India to the ODI World Cup next year. At 38, this might be Raj’s final hurrah.
On the other end of the spectrum, watch out for the explosive 17-year-old Shafali Verma in the T20Is. She already has 19 international caps and strikes it at 146.24.
A lot will depend on the India’s experienced middle order. Harmanpreet Kaur, Deepti Sharma, and Sushma Verma (comeback) will need to make sure India bats 50 overs in case of a collapse.
South Africa: Enviable Top-Order With Lee, Wolfvaardt, and Luus
If the top order of Lizelle Lee, Laura Wolfvaardt, and Sune Luus play to their potential, this South African team will be very hard to beat. Luus also has the extra responsibility of the stand-in captain in the absence of injured Dan van Niekerk.
Lookout for Trisha Chetty. A veteran of 114 ODIs, the wicketkeeper-batsman is integral to the core of this South African side.
Tazmin Brits is the in-form T20I batsman for South Africa. With scores of 52* & 66, she was the Player of the T20I series against Pakistan.
India: Shikha Pandey’s Omission The Talking Point
In the build up to this series, the omission of India’s pace spearhead, Shikha Pandey, has taken the public by surprise. India’s most successful pace bowler of recent times and 2nd highest wicket taker in India’s last assignment (T20 World Cup) this is a huge call.
In Shikha’s absence, the pace responsibility will lie with the veteran Jhulan Goswami, Mansi Joshi, and Arundhati Reddy (T20I only)
I am most excited to watch India’s spin trio—Poonam Yadav, the T20 World Cup star,, Radha Yadav, and Rajeshwari Gayakwad. The youngster, Harleen Deol, impressed in the T20 Challenge with the Trailblazers and might get more opportunities to showcase her talent on the international stage.
South Africa: Ample Fast Bowling Resources, but Spin the Concern
The allrounder, Marizanne Kapp, is the glue that holds South Africa’s together. In the Player of the Match performance in the 2nd ODI against Pakistan, she scored an unbeaten 68 along with 3-44 as the opening pace bowler. Brilliant.
Shabnam Ismail is one of the best fast bowlers on women’s cricket circuit at the moment. South Africa’s highest wicket taker in both ODIs and T20Is, she will be key to South Africa’s success.
Without regular captain and off-spinner van Niekerk, South Africa’s spin bowling department is the concern.
Along with Mandhana, Raj, & Kaur, Veda Krishnamurthy caught the public’s eye in the 2017 ODI World Cup as India’s finisher. Yet, an ODI average of 25.9 & T20I average of 18.61 was not justifiable. Hopefully this is just a short term loss of form, and she we come roaring back soon.
Harmanpreet Kaur insisted that Pandey was ‘rested, not dropped‘ in order to experiment with the rest of the squad for upcoming tournaments. I do not buy this statement given a 18-member squad was picked regardless and that India has not played any international cricket for over a year.
South Africa: Masabata Klaas
South Africa are carrying a settled squad, with the exception of Klass. She suffered a last-minute injury in the Pakistan series and has not been picked for this series.
Verdict: 3-2 South Africa (ODIs) & 2-1 India (T20Is)
South Africa’s top order and fast bowlers should give them the edge in the ODIs. Expect competitive games with scores around 225-250.
I am going with India 2-1 for the T20I series. The swashbuckling top order of Jemimah, Shafali, and Mandhana may be too much to handle for South Africa. India should look to bat first, put up a decent score, and let the spin trio handle the rest.
Let us know your thoughts on India Vs South Africa Women, and the eventual scorelines.
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My Starting XIs
These are my starting XIs (assuming everyone is available in terms of COVID and injuries).
Pakistan cricket has rejuvenated in the last couple of years.
Post 2015, Pakistan has invested in youngsters and focused on bringing cricket back home. With the likes of Babar Azam and Shaheen Shah Afridi, this Pakistan T20I team is a force to reckon with in the near future.
Can they triumph against New Zealand in their own backyard?
Read till the end to check out our predictions. Let us know who you think will win in the COMMENTS below!
When and Where?
Here are the dates and the venue for the Pakistan Vs New Zealand T20I series.
Azam’s injury paves the way for youngsters like the next-big-thing Haider Ali, Abdullah Shafique, and Khusdil Shah to showcase their talent.
New Zealand: Explosive But Inexperienced
Williamson is on paternity leave but is expected to come back by the 2nd T20I. Another key selection is that Ross Taylor has been dropped. You heard it right—dropped, not rested.
Glenn Phillips and Devon Conway cemented their places with marvelous performances against the West Indies. Another young talent from Hong Kong, Mark Chapman, has got a few chances but now needs to follow suit and deliver.
Expect Guptill-Seifert to provide New Zealand with explosive starts and Neesham to finish it off in style.
Pakistan: Pakistan Cricket and the Flurry of Bowling Options
Shaheen Shah Afridi is the complete package – can bowl up front and at the death. Need 4 wickets in 4 balls? Can do that as well. One of the bests in this format right now.
Wahab Riaz is the experienced man in this line up. Has been in and out of the side in the last few years. With Haris Rauf’s rapid rise and Naseem/Musa waiting, Riaz would want to nail his T20I World Cup spot.
Stand-in captain Shadab Khan & Imad Wasim will occupy key spinning-allrounder roles. Much rest on their shoulders for the balance of the XI.
New Zealand: Rotation Policy Central to New Zealand’s Depth
Southee-Boult-Jamieson should return for the last 2 T20Is as the first choice bowling line-up.
The first T20I gives the likes of Doug Bracewell, Kuggeleijn, Tickner, and possible debutant Duffy a chance to seal the reserve seamer spot.
Santner will captain in the absence of Williamson. In short New Zealand grounds and flat pitches, Santner needs to keep economy rate low otherwise another Pollard-like carnage is on the cards.
Key Matchups To Watch Out For
Haris Rauf Vs NZ’s middle order:As Rauf has shown in the Big Bash, he is a quite a skiddy customer and a smart, thinking cricketer. The Kiwis ought to be wary.
Battle of the Keepers: Both Seifert and Rizwan are safe behind the wickets and have had a decent past year. The winner of this mini-battle will have an impact on the series.
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The Broken Dream
Pakistan: Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Amir
Shoaib Malik, the first Asian to 10000 T20 runs, has already won the National T20 Cup and the Lanka Premier League finals. Yet, with veterans Hafeez and Iftikhar Ahmed, is it curtains on a two-decade long career?
Mohammad Amir’s recent international retirement/break statement has shaken the social media world. The journey of a promising young kid whose rise took the world by surprise, followed by a spot-fixing exile, a remarkable comeback, and finally dropped from the side—end of the dream for Amir?
What are your thoughts on his sudden retirement? COMMENT BELOW!
New Zealand: Ross Taylor
Devon Conway’s consistent performances has cast Ross Taylor aside, the only person to play 100+ games across formats. Always a decent performer, Taylor never lived up to his RCB 2009 heights in T20Is. Can he make it to the next World Cup?
Verdict: 2-1 Pakistan
This young Pakistan cricket team is definitely favorites to reach the top 4 at the 2021 T20I World Cup in India. Without Babar Azam, the team will not be at its maximum potential, but neither is New Zealand without Williamson and with its fast bowling-rotation policy.
Both teams have fluid, explosive line ups with multiple bowling options. In this series, I am most excited for the youngsters on show!
Expect Haider Aliand Glenn Phillips to provide some entertainment.
Let us know your thoughts on Pakistan cricket, New Zealand cricket, and the eventual scoreline. COMMENT BELOW AND LET US KNOW!
My Starting XI:
These are my starting XI for the first Test (assuming everyone is available in terms of COVID and injuries).
Abdullah Shafique, Haider Ali, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Rizwan (WK), Khusdil Shah, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan*, Haris Rauf, Shaheen Afridi, Wahab Riaz
New Zealand (1st):
Martin Guptill, Tim Seifert (WK), Glenn Phillips, Devon Conway, Mark Chapman, Mitchell Santner*, James Neesham, Ish Sodhi, Jacob Duffy, Blair Tickner, Doug Bracewell