Without Dhawan, India lose out left-hand, right-hand advantage at top: Ross Taylor
Ross Taylor has been in good nick for New Zealand. (AFP Image)

NOTTINGHAM: India will miss out on the services of Shikhar Dhawan for at least three weeks, but that doesn’t make them any less of a side, feels Ross Taylor.

Taylor insisted that India continue to remain a dangerous unit even without Dhawan but New Zealand would want to make most of the fact that their opponents will no longer have the advantage of a left-hand, right-hand combination at the top, a factor he feels tends to throw bowling attacks off guard. With Dhawan sidelined, KL Rahul would slot back as an opener alongside Rohit Sharma.

“Obviously, Shikhar is a big loss to India. The presence, he plays very well at ICC tournaments and has a very good record over here,” Taylor said. “Himself and Rohit Sharma have a very good partnership, and I think they complement each other well because they’re right and left-handed. In terms of our line-up, I think we’ve had a similar balanced side for a long time, and when you do have a right-left hand combination, it does put pressure in different ways on the bowling opposition.

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“A lot of these grounds in the UK have a short boundary to one side, and if you’ve got two right handers or two left handers, you can’t exploit it as much where obviously having the right and the left hand, and the communication becomes very important to target those short boundaries.

“As we see, it’s traditionally a short boundary here. If that is the case, then hopefully we can exploit it with the right, left handers, as I’m sure India and other teams that are playing here will try and do.”

The last time India and New Zealand met in a 50-over game was the World Cup warm-up, in which Virat Kohli and his men were bowled out for 179, with Trent Boult claiming 4/33 and Taylor himself leading the charge with a knock of 71. In that game, Taylor was impressive in tackling the two India spinners in particular and he feels New Zealand are well-equipped in terms facing the spin duo of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav.

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“We’ve faced India a lot in recent times and had some success against them. Obviously, two world class spinners on their day. I think we’ve had success at different stages. We’ll have to wait and see what the wicket produces tomorrow,” Taylor pointed out. “Some shorter boundaries, and sometimes that can play in the minds of the spinner, not necessarily – one might spin a little bit more defensive. With all the weather around and so much uncertainty, we’ll just have to wait and see. And I’m sure the team that adapts the best will probably get the right result.”

That Taylor remains a key element in New Zealand’s batting line-up should not come as an understatement. Taylor had a breakthrough year in 2018. He scored 639 runs from 11 matches, averaging 91.28, and began the year on an emphatic note with 281 runs from three innings against Sri Lanka, a series which New Zealand slept. After a small stutter against India, Taylor made 130 runs from two innings against Bangladesh. And in the two innings he’s batted in the World Cup, Taylor has produced knocks of 82 and 48.

“Never get too carried away in this game of cricket. I’m pretty happy. I had a big push for this World Cup. I’m not getting any younger. It’s still a long way to go in this tournament. As I said, still got some big games to go. Never get too carried away, but hopefully the confidence and the runs can continue for a bit longer,” he said about his current form.

“I didn’t bat in the first game. It’s not a bad thing. I think my position at 4 is to bat in the situation as best as possible. If the openers go well, you play accordingly and vice versa. You try to adapt as quick as possible.

“In terms of going out there and getting numbers like that, if you’re winning games of cricket and help contribute in any way possible, first and foremost, that’s what you want to do. Whatever your stats are at the end of the tournament, if you make the semi-finals, finals, win the trophy, they become irrelevant, and that becomes the main focus.

“I think, if you talk to most players on the team, it’s about contribution, and if you do that, then they’ve done their job.”