Latham's reliable approach brings success

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‘Couldn’t be as free as I wanted to be’ – Latham

Tom Latham saw his team-mates fall in all sorts of ways as he battled for nearly three hours and became the first New Zealand batsman to carry his bat in an ODI.

While his more experienced colleagues crumbled once again during what has become an arduous tour of the subcontinent, Latham was firm in Dharamsala, where his half-century was the only resistance India faced until he was joined by two defiant lower-order batsmen. From 65 for 7, Latham first collaborated with Doug Bracewell to add 41 runs, and then Tim Southee smacked 55 off 45 balls – his maiden half-century in his 100th ODI – in a 71-run stand for the ninth wicket.

New Zealand finished with 190, which was no where near enough to prevent them from going 0-1 down in the five-ODI series, having lost the Tests 0-3. Latham was the only New Zealand batsman to make more than one half-century during the Test series against India and he scored his unbeaten 79 in the first ODI in the same manner as his long-form runs.

He either left or defended deliveries that moved outside off stump and accumulated his runs through 39 singles and three twos. With a few deliveries bowled from the College End stopping on the batsmen after landing on a good length, Latham played the ball late. His most productive stroke was the cover drive.

As he began to run out of partners, Latham went after the legspinner Amit Mishra, hitting his seventh four and only six before Ish Sodhi’s dismissal made him the tenth batsman to carry his bat in an ODI.

“As an opener you want to spend as much time out in the middle as possible,” Latham said after New Zealand’s six-wicket defeat. “Obviously, losing wickets at the other end dictated the way I could play and I couldn’t be as free as I wanted to be throughout the middle [overs], when I had to build a partnership towards the end with the tail. I suppose that’s the reason for batting the way I did in the middle and towards the end.”

When Latham bats, especially when he plays the back-foot punch and the flick, he reminds you of Kumar Sangakkara, but he said he grew up idolising Michael Hussey. Like Hussey did, Latham sweeps powerfully and the stroke has brought him runs against the Indian spinners.

“It is one of my favourite shots and it’s a shot that seems to work for me, especially in conditions where it’s slow and turning,” he said. “I find it an easier option than maybe hitting down the ground. Obviously I have to adapt to conditions and that’s a shot I like.”

Latham said the Dharamsala pitch had offered variable bounce early on and that New Zealand could have adopted a better approach. “We know we weren’t quite there in all facets of the match, with the ball especially and in the field too. Hopefully we can change a few things in the next couple of days. When we play our best cricket we will beat most teams in the world.”

He also defended New Zealand’s decision to rest fast bowlers Trent Boult and Matt Henry from the first ODI because of the workload they had in the Tests. Boult bowled 106.4 overs in three matches while Henry sent down 82 in two.

“I think it’s important for our team that they rest and they are able to go in the next few matches,” Latham said. “It is pretty tough for the bowlers when they play every game, especially [after] the amount of overs they bowled in the Test series. Hopefully they are rested and recovered and when they do play they are ready to go.”

Arun Venugopal is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo. @scarletrun

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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