Power-hitting left hander Colin Munro is likely to open New Zealand’s innings with Martin Guptill on the limited overs tour of India with Tom Latham dropping down the order, coach Mike Hesson has said.
Hesson and nine members of the New Zealand squad left on Thursday for the tour, which starts on Oct. 22 and includes three one-day internationals and three Twenty20 matches.
They will link up with six players from the New Zealand ‘A’ side currently in the subcontinent.
Munro, 30, is on the ‘A’ tour and has principally batted in the middle order in his previous 24 ODIs for New Zealand.
While he has an average of just 25.26 batting mostly at five or six in the order, his strike rate of 99.37 should make him a valuable partner for the similarly aggressive Guptill in trying to get New Zealand off to a flying start.
“We need to generate a strike rate at the top of the innings,” Hesson said when asked by reporters in Christchurch about Munro joining Guptill at the top of the order.
“It would be fair to say Martin and Tom, although they have had some really good performances individually, they haven’t really clicked at the top and certainly haven’t generated a strike-rate as a pair that we would like.”
Hesson has sent out a clear warning to his team ahead of its tour of India — either adapt quickly to the conditions or get taught a harsh lesson by the world No.1 side.
“Look, their record at home has been phenomenal in the last two or three years,” said Hesson before leaving for India for a limited-overs series comprising three ODIs and three T20Is starting October 22.
“You know going over there that you have to perform, otherwise you get taught a pretty harsh lesson. It is important for us to adapt really quickly.”
Hesson added that specialist top-order batsman George Worker could also be considered for the role, while hard-hitting wicketkeeper-batsman Glenn Phillips was also a possibility.
The 20-year-old Phillips scored 140 not out in the second one-day match against India ‘A’ in Visakhapatnam two days ago, batting at number three. Worker and Munro opened the innings.
Hesson added that wicketkeeper was also a position he was looking at on the tour after Luke Ronchi retired from international cricket earlier this year.
Latham, who was a wicketkeeper for much of his career before becoming a test opening batsman, took the gloves earlier this year in limited overs matches but scored just nine runs in five innings at the top of the order.
Hesson, however, said the 25-year-old was still a possibility for the job, even with Phillips and Tom Blundell, both of whom have played international Twenty20 cricket, and the uncapped Tim Siefert on the ‘A’ tour.
“Tom Latham is very much a possibility,” Hesson said.
”We have got three others on the New Zealand ‘A’ tour there so we will have a look at them and make a decision over the next few days.
“But Tom is the most experienced of the keepers. The other three are still developing.”