Latham ton sets NZ up for big win

Tom Latham will be one of three returners to the Black Caps ODI squad. Photo: Getty Images
Tom Latham. File photo: Getty Images
Tom Latham will likely insist that all he wanted for his 30th birthday was a win.

That's what he received, too, but after reaching that life landmark yesterday, the understated Black Caps skipper celebrated with another special milestone.

Latham rescued his side from a perilous position in the second ODI against the Netherlands, posting his highest one-day score to set up a 118-run victory at Seddon Park.

After the Black Caps' top order had pitched in to give their captain the present of a 32-5 hole, Latham cracked an unbeaten 140 from 123 deliveries, helping the hosts post 264-9 and continuing a golden run of form.

In nine ODIs since the end of the 2019 World Cup, Latham is averaging 105.5 at a strike rate of 102.7, achieving a level of batting maturity appropriate for a man entering his 30s.

Latham then oversaw a straightforward second innings from behind the stumps as an understrength Black Caps dismissed the Dutch for 146, securing the series ahead of Monday's finale in Hamilton.

Latham paced his three-hour knock perfectly, initially tasked with avoiding disaster as the 14th-ranked Netherlands sensed the chance for a famous triumph over the world No 1.

Having come to the crease with the Black Caps on 30-3 - the top three removed through a combination of good catching (Martin Guptill), bad luck (Will Young) and poor shot-making (Henry Nicholls) - a tricky situation for Latham became even more hazardous.

Ross Taylor's stuttering farewell tour quickly hit another bump, the retiring great caught close to the wicket for one when the game seemed tailor-made for one last big knock.

Once Michael Bracewell had fallen for the same score, New Zealand staggered out of the powerplay on 32-5, their hopes entirely in the hands of Latham.

Thankfully for the Black Caps, the wicketkeeper has quite a firm grasp. Latham and a restrained Colin de Grandhomme first focused on cooling down a fired-up tourist attack, with Wellington quick Logan van Beek (4-56) relishing to chance to show his ability at international level.

While Latham kept turning over the strike, de Grandhomme was struggling to suppress his aggressive style, finally attempting and miscuing one expansive shot to depart for 16 from 40 balls.

That left the home side still in trouble on 97-6 at the halfway stage, but with what would become a match-defining partnership in place.

Doug Bracewell provided all the support his skipper would need, sharing in a 90-run stand for the second wicket that, coming from 99 balls, lifted the run rate and laid the platform for a respectable total.

Bracewell eventually fell for 41 in the 40th over and, with the consolidation period over, Latham made the most of that platform to launch.

He hit all five of his sixes in the final 10 overs - including a couple of innovative shots that saw him watch the ball clear the fence from his backside - and scored 57 of the Black Caps' 83 runs in the climax to the innings.

Latham brought up his sixth ODI ton in the 44th over and illustrated his confidence in the 50th, turning down singles on the first three deliveries before ramping a couple of sixes while taking 16 runs from the final three.

The boundary to end the innings saw Latham surpass his previous best ODI score of 137 - and left the Netherlands deflated to begin a chase they would never threaten to complete.

Doug Bracewell helped to ensure that, striking in the opening over as he completed a strong all-round performance with figures of 1-24.

After Kyle Jamieson also found success in his first over, reducing the tourists to 4-2, the only resistance came in a 77-run third-wicket stand between Vikramjit Singh and Bas de Leede.

Once that was broken by a de Grandhomme full toss, the spin of Michael Bracewell (3-21) and Ish Sodhi (2-17) proved too deceptive for the Dutch to handle.

Bracewell removed his two most familiar opponents, getting Otago all-rounder Michael Rippon stumped by Latham and finding the edge of van Beek, before Sodhi finished it off as the match ended in the hands of Taylor at first slip.

With Latham making his party one to remember, Taylor will now be hoping to do likewise on Monday.

Local trusted journalism matters - now more than ever

As the Covid-19 pandemic brings the world into uncharted waters, Star Media journalists and photographers continue to report local stories that matter everyday - yours.

For more than 152 years our journalists have provided Cantabrians with local news that can be trusted. It’s more important now than ever to keep Cantabrians connected.

As our advertising has fallen during the pandemic, support from you our reader is crucial.

You can help us continue to provide local news you can trust simply by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter