Explosive NZ batsman offers a peek into the way his mind works after he helped beat Bangladesh in Auckland
In explaining how he got off the mark with a reverse sweep in two successive T20Is, Finn Allen provided a glimpse into his mindset. He used the word fearless up front. It can come across as a word that is overused but this 21-year old really does bat like that. For proof, check out his 29-ball 71 in a rain-reduced game that helped New Zealand to a 65-run win in Auckland.
His ten fours and three sixes was a reflection of how he batted during this season’s Super Smash. Allen scored 512 runs at 193.93 strike-rate in 11 games. It is the third-highest strike-rate among batsmen with 500-plus runs in a T20 tournament. Big-hitting luminaries Andre Russell and Alex Hales are the other two, but neither were playing their first T20 tournament like Allen.
When asked why he played a reverse sweep to get off the mark in the second T20I in Napier, especially after his golden duck on debut, Allen said that he backs himself to pull it off despite the risks involved.
“It was just about being fearless, continuing to be like that from the Super Smash,” he said. “The fear of not getting out and wanting to take it to the opposition. I felt like it is a shot that I worked on a lot against left-arm spin this summer.
“I thought that it is a shot I play a lot so why not pull it out [against Nasum Ahmed]? It doesn’t matter the situation. I could have easily thought I haven’t scored a run yet, just get one under the belt. But I felt like it was the best option for me. Talking to Guptill at the other end, he said back yourself and back your skills. I went for it.”
Allen did the same at Eden Park on Thursday. After Martin Guptill hogged most of the strike in the first two overs, Allen reverse swept Ahmed over point for four. He cultivated the shot originally as a means to counter Mitchell Santner in the Super Smash but is now finding a lot more uses for it.
“I just felt it was a good option,” Allen said. “The whole field was up and I knew roughly what he was trying to bowl. I felt like it was a good match-up for me. I was lucky that it came off. We just went from there.
“I found out a lot of guys got out trying to hit Mitch Santner down the ground. I wanted to hit the reverse sweep but over the top, which is a potential boundary option for me. I think I spent two or three days batting left-handed against the spinners in the nets. Luckily it came off and just kept going from there.”
Once he had struck that first four, he struck two more off the next couple of deliveries and added a straight six to take 19 off the Ahmed over. New Zealand were away with both Guptill and Allen going after literally every delivery.
Allen’s best shot was perhaps the square-cut six over point off Rubel Hossain, that leapt high into the Eden Park stands.”From the beginning I felt I was in the zone. I was focused on my partner and the bowler. I didn’t hear anything else. (In the end), I had a moment to appreciate the guys who hung around in the rain to watch us. It was pretty cool,” he said.
But the T20I series against Bangladesh weren’t all bed of roses for Allen. It taught him that in international cricket, you can’t always rely on plan A.
“With all the games I play, I want to have the same brand. I want to approach it in the same aggressive way. But I think this series has made me realise I need to have more options. Get in similar positions and look to be dominant, but have more than one option for a particular delivery,” he said.
Also helping Allen perform the way he liked was a dressing room full of people offering him their unstinting support. “I definitely didn’t think it would be so easy to integrate into an international side. I think it just shows how good the group is. The coaching staff made it easy for me to fit in and feel comfortable. It helped my confidence to go out there and play the way I did. It is a similar way Wellington brought me in here,” he said.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84
Eng vs NZ 2021 – Trent Boult available for second Test, Williamson’s elbow to be monitored
Mitchell Santner, meanwhile, has been ruled out of the next game with a finger injury
Santner had suffered a cut to his spinning finger during the intra-squad match, in the approach to the tour, and then aggravated his injury by playing the first Test at Lord’s. Santner, who was the only frontline spinner in either XIs in the opening Test, had gone wicketless in 23 overs, conceding 68 runs. He served up eight full-tosses in that game, according to ESPNcricinfo’s ball-by-ball data, giving up 16 runs, including a chest-high beamer. Stead conceded that the cut to Santner’s left index finger disrupted his rhythm.
“People probably would have seen him open up the piece on his finger again; he had quite a bit of blood on his pants,” Stead said of Santner. “That came from the cut he originally had. We thought it had healed okay, but obviously we needed a little bit more time for that to happen and it definitely hampered his ability in the match as well.”
“His [Williamson’s] elbow is still niggling him a wee bit,” Stead said. “We’ve had some more treatment on that and we just want to make sure the best thing for him is playing in this match first, I guess, taking a little bit time to be ready and training the way he needs to train.”
Stead, though, welcomed Boult back into the set-up, all but confirming his comeback. After the IPL was suspended, the left-arm seamer opted to return home to spend time with his family in Mount Maunganui rather than head straight to the UK along with the rest of the New Zealand contingent. Before the Lord’s Test, Stead had indicated the turnaround for Edgbaston would be too tight for Boult but updated quarantine protocols have allowed him to train immediately after arriving which has advanced his preparations by a few days.
“Trent’s back and available to be selected and it’s likely we’ll play him in this game as well,” he said. “It’s good news for us. Things did change when he got here or from the information we had initially. So, think it’s the best thing for Trent to get out there, get the Dukes ball in his hand and show us what he’s capable of.”
With an eye on the forthcoming World Test Championship [WTC] final against India, which begins on June 18 at the Ageas Bowl, Stead reckoned that the rest of the attack could also be rotated. Tim Southee, Neil Wagner and Kyle Jamieson all had solid workouts at Lord’s, bowling 40 or more overs across both innings, despite the entire third day’s play being wiped out by a persistent drizzle. Matt Henry, Doug Bracewell and Southland’s Jacob Duffy, who is also uncapped, are the potential seam-bowling replacements for the senior quicks. Stead said that they would lock in their XI on Wednesday.
“We’ve got a squad of 20 obviously,” he said. “So, a lot of guys have played Test cricket before. Matt Henry is here, Daryl Mitchell is here, Doug Bracewell, Ajaz Patel…there’re guys in and around the squad who’ve played for us in the past. So, again, we’re having those discussions with the squad before final training.”
Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
PSL 2021 – Karachi Kings captain Imad Wasim rubbishes claims of ‘hiding himself’ on the field
Wasim had bowled just 13 overs in five matches in the first leg of PSL 2021
That has dovetailed with exclusion from the national side, of which he was such an essential part in their rise to the top of the rankings after the 2016 World T20. But the PSL now offers an opportunity to throw himself back into that mix, as well as ensure a successful title defence with Karachi.
“First thing, I played one ball in the matches [in the first leg in Karachi] and got out first ball,” he said. “The wickets were such and our top order was doing so well that I didn’t even get my batting. Sometimes people look at stats but they don’t have much of an idea. They see I have zero runs from five matches but I only played one ball in those five games.”
His bowling, he acknowledged, had been “disappointing” in a couple of games but bristled at the suggestion in one question that fans thought he was hiding himself in games out of fear of being exposed. His opening spells in the Powerplay were a central plank in Pakistan’s strategy during their rise, but his performances have dipped slightly over the last 18 months, and Pakistan have been picking Mohammad Nawaz in his place.
In the first five games, Wasim didn’t bowl himself in one game, bowled a single over for 16 in another, before finally opening the bowling in three games in which he bowled his full complement of overs.
“You think fans think I would do something like this so I don’t get exposed on my performances?” he asked. “It doesn’t matter to me. Anyone can say whatever they want about me. It doesn’t matter if the world thinks I will get exposed or not, the thing that matters is what the team requires. If the team requires me to bowl four overs, I’ll bowl four overs. If it requires just one over, I will bowl just one.
“I’ve never backed down from any challenge, and I won’t now. People who know me, players who have played with me know I never back down from a challenge. Even in this leg, if I feel that I don’t need to bowl a single ball I won’t bowl one. The only thing that matters is the team. Personal performances don’t matter, only the team. That is the No.1 goal, the team performance, not mine. It’s irrelevant even if you get five out and the team loses.”
The Kings restart the campaign with a game against Multan Sultans on Thursday, bearing the champions tag lightly. “We’re not playing thinking we are defending champions,” he said. “There’s probably a little bit of pressure but the main concern is to play good cricket, and take it game by game. Nobody has ever defended the title in the PSL and it would be great to do it, but we’re not thinking about it.
“We’ve played well so far, but others have as well and there’s nothing between us on the points table. This is a new leg for us, what has happened in the past is gone. We have to get up for this again. There’s been a lot of changes in the teams since the first leg and we’ve got to try and create some momentum and keep hold of it.”
WI vs SA 2021 1st Test – Shai Hope, Jayden Seales named in West Indies squad for first Test
Roston Chase and Kieran Powell also named, Darren Bravo misses out
“Jayden Seales is young, very enthusiastic and has a big heart. In the ‘Best v Best’ matches he bowled with pace, got movement and has displayed the ability to take wickets. We think he is capable of adding potency to the bowling attack,” said CWI chief selector Roger Harper about Seales’ inclusion. Seales had first made an impression in the Under-19 World Cup in South Africa last year, claiming ten wickets in six matches at an average of 18.30 and an economy rate of 3.89. He went on to bag a CPL deal with the Trinbago Knight Riders, who have retained him ahead of the upcoming season.
“Kieran Powell we know is a very capable batsman who we expect to add quality and depth to the batting department. He put himself in the mix with his performance in the Best v Best match. Shai Hope has performed very well in the red ball matches he has played, following on the back of his highly successful One-Day International series against Sri Lanka, so he has forced his way into the squad by performance,” said Harper.
Squad for the first Test: Kraigg Brathwaite (capt), Jermaine Blackwood (vice-capt), Nkrumah Bonner, Roston Chase, Rahkeem Cornwall, Joshua Da Silva, Jason Holder, Shai Hope, Alzarri Joseph, Kyle Mayers, Kieran Powell, Kemar Roach, Jayden Seales
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