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India vs New Zealand: Time to give Matt Henry a longer run

New Zealand fast bowler Matt Henry can be an asset for New Zealand against India and the Christchurch-born bowler currently averages two wickets per ODI.

india vs new zealand 2017 Updated: Oct 31, 2017 19:49 IST
Sidharth Gulati
Matt Henry has not played for New Zealand since May earlier this year.
Matt Henry has not played for New Zealand since May earlier this year.(AFP)

One thing that has made the Indian cricket team a powerhouse in ODIs is its bowling department. Since its 4-1 series loss to Australia in 2016, consistent performances from Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav, Hardik Pandya and the new spin duo of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal have guided them to seven successive ODI series wins, the latest coming against New Zealand.

For New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson and the team management, it’s perhaps time to take a leaf out of India’s book. One of the biggest changes that the Kiwis can make in the squad is the inclusion of pace bowler Matt Henry. Henry last played in the ODI series against Bangladesh and he can be an asset in the limited overs format.

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In their 2-1 series defeat against India at this past week, none except left-arm paceman Trent Boult could produce a match-winning performance among bowlers. While left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner varied length and pace to keep things tight, the 25-year-old couldn’t get more than four wickets.

The action now shifts to a format in which the Kiwis have a flawless 5-0 record against India. To maintain their supremacy over India, they need a change in bowling plan. And it is the right time to bring back Matt Henry, who has been one of their best bowlers in limited-overs cricket in the past couple of years.

Southee, Milne conundrum

Although new-ball bowler Tim Southee has taken 17 wickets in 13 ODIs in 2017, his average (40.47) and strike-rate (40.7) are high. His economy rate (5.96) is also just a shade below six.

Even during the three-ODI series versus India, he took six wickets but went for a lot of runs, finishing with an economy rate of 6.86.

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Fellow pacer Adam Milne made his international debut in 2010 but has played just 40 ODIs and 18 T20Is due to injuries. He missed most of the action in 2016 and returned only before the ICC Champions Trophy.

Milne has that extra pace but if a bowler is repeatedly breaking down, it’s time to give others a chance.

Henry deserves longer run

Matt Henry has an enviable record in limited-overs cricket, and 61 wickets in 32 ODIs is anything but ordinary. The Canterbury pace bowler already has two five-wicket hauls and four four-wicket hauls.

At this rate, he could even break Mitchell Starc’s record as the fastest to 100 ODI wickets. The Australian left-arm paceman had achieved the feat in 52 games. Given his reliability in limited overs, it’s time to give Matt Henry a longer run. His record alone demands that.

New Zealand’s philosophy is to have someone who has extra pace as first change. While Henry is not that quick, he is someone who can make a difference.