India have faced stiff resistance from Taylor and Latham in this ODI series.
There are very few ways to beat India in One Day International cricket these days. The tried and tested success formula include dismissing Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli early, a mind-blowing partnership from the top of the order (think Jason Roy - Jonny Bairstow in the World Cup or the David Warner - Aaron Finch stand in Mumbai last month) or a brilliant individual performance (Shimron Hetmyer's 139 in Chennai being a standout example).
The other manner was revealed by the exuberant New Zealand pair of Ross Taylor and Tom Latham at Hamilton in the first ODI. The two middle-order Kiwis batsmen put on a spectacular show - a spectacular 138-run partnership at a run-rate of 10 and above - to drown India at Hamilton. After another win at the Eden Park - with Taylor once again shining - Latham and Taylor remain India’s biggest headache from an opposition side in recent times.
Unlike the one-off brilliance that Hetmyer or Finch displayed, Latham and Taylor have been consistently successful against India and as a pair in One Day Internationals. A few stats that stand out in this regard are:
The pace of scoring
What unravelled India at Hamilton was the Latham innings as Virat Kohli subtly put it - “Ross is the experienced batsman they have but Tom’s innings was the one that took away the momentum.”
Kohli's words were true. While Taylor was brilliant, it was Latham with a flurry of sweeps and reverse sweeps that tormented India in the middle overs and took the game away. Latham's 48-ball 69 - a strike rate of 143.75 - took India's breath away and dismantled their plans.
The two maintained a run-rate of 10.48, the second-best for any century in a successful run-chase. It is this rate of scoring that made India's plans awry. With Kuldeep Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja struggling to control the middle overs, Latham's onslaught forced India to return to their strike bowlers earlier.
The Taylor - Latham factor
Latham's move to the middle-order was a brilliant plan from the Mike Hesson era. With a good game against spin, Latham, a specialist Test opener, transformed into a solid middle-order ODI batsman. Importantly, he had Ross Taylor for company. No other pair has amassed more runs than Taylor and Latham for the fourth wicket in ODIs since 2012. The two have 1434 runs in 21 innings at an average of 68.28 with six-century partnerships.
Since 2016, the two are the most successful middle-order pair against India in ODIs. Latham and Taylor have 699 partnership runs in 10 ODIs against India since 2016 at an average of 69.9 with three century partnerships and two half-century stands. They come ahead of another pair that has tormented India in recent times - Shai Hope and Shimron Hetmyer.
Ross Taylor has a stupendous record against India in ODIs. He averages 49.03 in 34 ODIs against India with three hundreds and eight half-centuries. Tom Latham, meanwhile, averages 51.46 against India in ODIs with one hundred and five fifties. Importantly, his strike rate against India in ODIs is the second-best for him after Zimbabwe.
Since 2016, no batsman has recorded more runs against India in the middle-order (positions 4-7) than Taylor. The veteran batsman has 707 runs in this time frame in 16 matches at an average of 54.38 with a hundred and four fifties. Tom Latham comes third in the list of most runs from middle-order players against India since 2016 with 425 runs at 47.22. Angelo Mathews is the only non-Kiwi batsman to have scored higher against India.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Punit Paranjpe