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Cricket: Duo delivers as NZ selectors rolled the dice at Eden Park

Tom Latham takes the bails off as he stumps Cummins. Photo / Photosport
Tom Latham takes the bails off as he stumps Cummins. Photo / Photosport

In the wake of the Australian Marcus Stoinis' batting blitz, it's easy to forget two key selection tactics helped orchestrate New Zealand's opening six-run Chappell-Hadlee Trophy victory.

Tom Latham delivered a proactive display as wicketkeeper and Neil Broom's resurgence continued as a middle order batsman.

When Australia slumped to 67 for six in the 19th over, Latham had featured in the previous four dismissals. He caught Peter Handscomb (off Tim Southee), Glenn Maxwell and Sam Heazlett (off Lockie Ferguson), and stumped Shaun Marsh (off Mitchell Santner). Those efforts will bolster his confidence in his first ODI as gloveman since 2013. He went on to stump Pat Cummins, equalling the New Zealand wicketkeeping record of five dismissals in an ODI held jointly by Adam Parore, Brendon McCullum and Gareth Hopkins. Latham moved with fluency and conceded no byes, although a more rigorous test will come when, as opener, he bats longer in to the New Zealand innings than 2.5 overs.

With a series victory on the horizon in Napier, New Zealand might be reluctant to debut fellow wicketkeeper Tom Blundell, as was mooted. Latham proved a valuable sounding board for captain Kane Williamson at Eden Park, offering fielding angle advice on the small ground.

The selection rejig paid dividends by allowing an extra all-rounder to feature. Jimmy Neesham's 48 off 45 balls boosted the middle order.

New Zealand's survival rested with Neesham and Broom, who came together in the 26th over at 134 for five. They put on 76 in 77 balls.

Broom continued the form which resurrected his international career against Bangladesh, posting his third consecutive ODI half-century or better, after scoring 109 not out and 97 in Nelson over the festive season. The 33-year-old top-scored with 73 off 75 balls and could be an asset during the Champions Trophy in England this year. His high standard of ground fielding defied his age, and further contributed to morale. Broom is justifying the considerable efforts to get him released from his Derbyshire contract.

Since the World Cup, Brendon and Nathan McCullum, Daniel Vettori, Kyle Mills and Grant Elliott have retired from the ODI format for New Zealand. Regulars of recent seasons Corey Anderson, Mitchell McClenaghan, Adam Milne and Ross Taylor, have been injured of late.

The way Broom and Latham have assumed the extra responsibility is a welcome boon.

"Tom put together a tidy, unblemished display [with the gloves]," coach Mike Hesson said.

"The thing a lot of people don't realise is that he's been a wicketkeeper most of his life. It's not a makeshift move. For a couple of years he was focused on opening the batting, and we've encouraged that.

"Now he's at point in his career where he's doing that [the keeping] as well. It's not an option in test cricket, but, in ODIs, it's an area where he's got a lot of skill."

Hesson confirmed Broom would remain at No5 for the series.

"He's shown the experience we like, and he's calm. [The first ODI innings] was another example of what he did against Bangladesh in pressure situations.

"We're missing Grant Elliott. The experience we've had in the middle from Neil is performing that role."

- NZ Herald

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