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India vs New Zealand: Former skipper Ross Taylor needs to justify T20 selection

Ross Taylor’s game for New Zealand in T20 internationals was way back in 2016 and when he takes the field against India, it will be a tough test for the Kiwi veteran.

india vs new zealand 2017 Updated: Oct 30, 2017 17:04 IST
Sidharth Gulati
Sidharth Gulati
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
India vs New Zealand,Ross Taylor,New Zealand cricket team
Ross Taylor is all set to make his T20 return for New Zealand after almost 19 months when they take on India in New Delhi.(PTI)

Ross Taylor could end his 19-month exile from T20 format this week after being selected in New Zealand’s squad for the three-match series against India. Taylor, who appeared to have played his last T20 international for the Black Caps, was named as Todd Astle’s replacement in the 15-man squad. The 33-year-old hasn’t featured in the shortest format of the game since New Zealand’s loss to England in the semi-finals of 2016 World T20.

Colin Munro, Corey Anderson and Tom Bruce occupied positions three to five during the series against Bangladesh and South Africa earlier this year and coach Mike Hesson made it clear that there must be a ‘free spot’ for Taylor to be considered again for T20 selection.

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“First and foremost there needs to be a position available. Munro, Anderson and Bruce have done incredibly well through the middle order,” Hesson had said. “It’s very difficult for Ross because he is not going to get many T20 opportunities; I understand it is a catch 22.

“We know Ross is a quality player and we know he is keen to play T20s but at the moment we have got a side performing pretty well.”

Axe justified

With Anderson not being a part of the squad, Taylor could be drafted straight into the playing XI at his usual No 4 position. However, his axe from New Zealand’s T20 squad seemed justified in the first place.

Since 2013, Taylor has registered just one fifty-plus score in 22 innings. It was in 2012, he averaged 46.50 in eight games and scored 186 runs at a healthy strike-rate of 131.91. But since then, it has been a rough ride for the former New Zealand skipper.

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An average of 24.15 in a T20 international career spanning 73 matches doesn’t warrant a selection. Taylor also had a somewhat underwhelming World T20 in India last year, making 91 runs in five innings. His highest score in his last 14 innings is 36 not out.

Make-or-break series

Even in the recently concluded ODI series which New Zealand lost 1-2, Taylor started with a match-winning 95 at the Wankhede Stadium but lost his wicket at crucial junctures in Pune and Kanpur.

At 33, he is not getting any younger and questions about his future, especially in the shorter formats, will be raised time and again. After all, it’s a matter of performing well or making way.

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But for now, New Zealand have decided to gamble on Taylor and would bank on his experience to guide them to a historic series win. A good performance would also help him seal his spot for the series to come. But a failure here could mark the end of the road for Taylor in T20s.

First Published: Oct 30, 2017 17:02 IST