Black Caps heroes in Taylor's shadow

Tom Latham hit some crisp shots in his innings of 71 against England yesterday. Photo Getty Images
Tom Latham hit some crisp shots in his innings of 71 against England yesterday. Photo Getty Images
Ross Taylor provided New Zealand cricket fans with one of the finest one-day international innings in the country's history last night with 181 not out from 147 balls, helping chase down 336 to beat England at University Oval.

The task will be just as daunting for the Black Caps on Saturday to prevent England completing their sixth consecutive series victory in the format.

Today is Taylor's 34th birthday. The injustice of the situation is that if he wants to regain fitness for the finale in Christchurch, he may not get to sample the celebratory bottle of red wine packed into his suitcase.

With that in mind - as Taylor rests, ices, compresses and elevates his injured right thigh - let's shift the kudos to others who exceeded expectations in the five-wicket win which levelled the series 2-2.

1. Ish Sodhi

The leg spinner was central to England's seismic collapse - six wickets for 21 runs in 38 balls - as their middle-order panicked. Sodhi took career-best ODI figures of four for 53. He secured the initial wicket of Jason Roy for 42 from 41 balls in the 11th over with a wicket-maiden to start his spell.

Heading towards the death overs, Jos Buttler (caught-and-bowled for a two-ball duck), Ben Stokes (slog-sweeping with his nude bat to Henry Nicholls at deep square leg for one) and Moeen Ali (misjudging a googly on three and skying it to Tim Southee running in from long off) were no match for Sodhi's guile.

2. Tom Latham

Latham's fourth-wicket partnership of 187 runs from 215 balls with Taylor eclipsed the 178-run record the pair set between the countries in the first match at Hamilton.

Latham has been under scrutiny after dropping down the order to No.5 since collecting the wicket-keeping duties. However, his crisp-striking of 71 from 67 balls to match the 79 off 84 balls in the opening match was evidence of his impact, alongside no byes and a catch in an athletic display.

He got dropped, survived an lbw review – and a couple of decent shouts afterwards – but was effective in rotating the strike, sweeping the venom out of the spin, and dispatching the pace – in Mystery Morrison parlance – "high, wide and handsome" on to the embankment.

3. Colin de Grandhomme

His 23 off 12 was the catalyst that turned "possible" into "probable" regarding the victory.

He had fours off Adil Rashid from his opening two deliveries, and plastered two further sixes to reach 21 from his first six.

De Grandhomme only scored two from the next six balls but the initial impact was heavy.

4. Henry Nicholls

He had been referred to as "Binary" Nicholls somewhat uncharitably on social media in the first three matches after making 0, 1 and 0, so it was Guns 'n' Roses time as he was welcomed to the jungle with 33 runs required off 26 balls.

Nicholls went about his mission with aplomb, working the strike for Taylor, to reach seven off nine balls.

Then Tom Curran's last over started.

Dot – plus lbw appeal and run out chance.


Six – a whack over deep backward square leg to win the game. The look of relief and euphoria on Nicholls' face as he embraced Taylor is why cricket fans reading this love the game.

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