Did New Zealand take a backward step? Latham defends use of Boult

Australia’s deep batting order appears to have spooked New Zealand in to not taking a more attacking option in the field during the first ODI with scrutiny over Trent Boult‘s opening spell being stopped at five overs and the delay in bringing him back.
Boult had 3 for 12 after a brilliant burst of swing bowling and Australia were 38 for 4 after 10 overs when he was withdrawn from the attack. Matt Henry maintained the pressure by removing Marcus Stoinis to leave the home side 44 for 5, but Boult did not reappear until the 29th over by which time the match-defining stand between Alex Carey and Cameron Green had taken shape.
Boult did later remove Glenn Maxwell to cause a wobble for Australia, but the feeling persisted that the best moment had been missed earlier on. Speaking after the match, Boult indicated he was keen to keep going although referenced “a naughty batting order” with Maxwell at No. 8, a theme which was picked up by vice-captain Tom Latham on Wednesday.

“You can look at it both ways,” Latham said. “Either you can bowl him one more over but you’ve got to look at the bigger picture, the batting line-up Australia have, they bat deep…whether you go for the kill at that moment or just hold him [Boult] back. The guys we’ve got in our line-up, whatever the situation is we back anyone to come in and take wickets.

“Whether we do that in the same situation next game or whether we do things slightly differently, that’s the way we went about it and we certainly back the guys in those situations. That’s the decision Kane decided to do…you do have to hold a few overs back every now and again and that was the decision we went with.”

Lockie Ferguson caused some uneasy moments with his pace, but Mitchell Santner, Michael Bracewell and Jimmy Neesham were all used before Boult returned to the attack. Conditions did change significantly between innings with spin being very effective for Australia through Maxwell and Adam Zampa before the lights took hold.

“The wicket probably got a little bit better than what we expected, skidded on a little bit more and made batting a little bit easier,” Latham said. “The way we were able to bowl at the top and put them under pressure was outstanding [but] unfortunately we weren’t able to create any chances through that partnership and they batted really well. Hopefully if we are in that situation tomorrow we can try and create a few more chances and get a few more wickets through the middle.”

New Zealand may ponder whether they can get another frontline seamer into their attack for the second game – Tim Southee, who is three wickets away from 200 in ODIs, was on the bench for the first outing – but that would likely mean weakening the batting.

(With Inputs from ESPN)

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