Before the start of the series, the focus was firmly on Tom Latham. With Corey Anderson nursing an injury, New Zealand needed a reliable player in the middle-order, and the onus was on Latham who had batted as an opener in 37 ODIs.
Moreover, Latham’s strike-rate of close to 80 did not augur well for a modern-day opener, and the team-management took the bold call of sending Latham at number five, and the move has now paid rich dividends.
The 25-year-old scored an unbeaten 103 in the first One-Day International at the Wankhede Stadium, as New Zealand stunned India by seven wickets to go one nil up in the three-match series. He walked into bat when New Zealand was reeling at 80 for three in pursuit of 281 but shared a decisive 200-runs stand with Ross Taylor to take the Kiwis home.
Latham, who had also scored a century in the second warm-up game, deservedly won the Man of the Match and expressed his delight over his performance in the tough conditions.
Speaking after the win, Latham admitted the batting was tough after ‘keeping for 50 overs but was delighted to do his work at a new position.
“It was pretty humid out there. Keeping for 50 overs and then batting is pretty tough. Conditions back home are pretty different, so nice to see it through,” he said at the presentation ceremony.
“Whatever suits the team, and at the moment that No. 5 position is up for grabs. It’s something I’ve been working on – the reverse sweep. Nice that it came off today. The biggest thing is communication, and we were talking regularly between overs. Ross had a calming influence as a senior player,” he added.