New Zealand v India, 1st ODI, Napier January 20, 2014

Attack-first attitude keeps McClenaghan striking

Mitchell McClenaghan's primary duty is go all out for wickets and, like he showed in Napier, he has the knack of doing the job for his team at key times

India needed 69 more off 46 deliveries to beat New Zealand in the Napier ODI. They had six wickets remaining, and Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni had already put on 95 in just 14 overs. A couple of overs more and the duo could have run away with the game. Brendon Mccullum handed the ball to his strike bowler.

Mitchell McClenaghan delivered yet again, getting Dhoni caught behind on the hook with a sharp bouncer. Three balls later, McClenaghan had Ravindra Jadeja edging a lifter to the wicketkeeper. Facing an asking-rate of ten now, Kohli had no choice but to try and attack McClenaghan in the fast bowler's next over; he ended up placing a full toss straight into the hands of short cover.

Dhoni said that was where the game turned, and India lost a match they had seemed like winning at that point. McClenaghan ended with 4 for 68, the sixth time he had taken four or more in an ODI. He has played only 19 one-dayers, which means that almost every third match, he picks up a four-for. McClenaghan, with 47 wickets to his name, is set to become the second-fastest to 50 ODI scalps behind Ajantha Mendis, who got there in 19 matches. This ability to strike, and strike repeatedly, has given him the best strike-rate ever for bowlers who have taken at least as many wickets as he has.

McClenaghan strikes at 20.4, which puts him way ahead of number two on the list - Junaid Khan with 27.1. Only 12 bowlers on the list have a strike-rate under 30.

It is revealing to see that McClenaghan has the highest economy-rate of 5.80 among those 12. He has already developed a reputation of going all out for wickets without worrying too much about how many he concedes. His first-class average is nearly 40 compared to a List A one of 23.88, which also suggests that he is appreciably more effective with the white ball than with the red.

Before the series, Brendon McCullum had said that New Zealand would target wickets rather than trying to contain India and would not hesitate to play both McClenaghan and Adam Milne, who can also be expensive as he strives for extreme pace. While Milne was unfortunate to go off the field with a side strain in Napier, he did work up hostile speeds consistently. But it was McClenaghan who did the job for his captain once more.

"He does keep producing at key times for us and I can't stress the importance of it," McCullum said. "He is going to travel at times but as long as he is trying to perform in the manner that we have picked him for, then we are happy and he has to ride that wave because he has the handy knack of picking up wickets at key times.

"He is not always going to do that but as long as he is always trying to do that, that's the message we keep telling them. As long as he's doing the right thing in terms of attacking and trying to take the wickets for us, then we know what we are going to get when he comes in to bowl. He did it again and he is certainly proving to have a pretty good knock out."

With the new fielding restrictions allowing only four men in the deep, containment is increasingly becoming difficult for captains. Bowlers such as McClenaghan, who combine accuracy and good pace, might become even more valuable assets as sides rebuild their strategies to suit the changed regulations. Of course, they will also need more attacking captains such as McCullum to back them.

Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • David on January 21, 2014, 17:30 GMT

    Mitch, Boult, Southee, Wagner, Bennett, Milne, Bracewell, the the old head Mills and the brilliant Bond as coach plus an aggressive Captain..... NZ pace bowling has never looked so good!! Not to mention the all rounders Anderson and Neesham to back them up. The likes of young Matt Henry in the wings... very exciting times for NZ if they can stay injury free unlike past NZ quicks. Good to see an attacking mindset instead of the limiting mindset NZ used to have with our slow / mediums a few years back!

  • sri on January 21, 2014, 7:15 GMT

    @Jake Hishon Are you serious? Shane Bond is n't real.

  • Sanjay on January 21, 2014, 6:56 GMT

    India did well to recover to 200 odd for 4 wickets down after that poor start (or great start for kiwis depending on how you look at it) but you always got the feeling that just one more wicket was all NZ needed, and so it proved.

    What many Indian fans have missed observing is that in this day and age when tailenders all contribute with the bat, we continue to produce bowlers who don't even know how to hold a bat. It was comical to watch Ishant and Shami swinging at the end. Our weak tail puts enormous pressure on our middle order.

    Most teams now bat way deep, often to No. 10. We, on the other hand, have too many players who are weak in all three disciplines. At the very least, a bowler should be a good fielder, he should have a good arm so he can patrol the boundary adequately.

    We're a million miles from someone like Jimmy Anderson who on top of his bowling is good enough to field in the slips. He's also superb in the deep.

  • paul on January 21, 2014, 6:52 GMT

    All NZ have done is take a leaf out of Australians book....get big nasty quicks bounding in and no team likes that.... Mills might get another turn but I would like to see NZ unleash Bennett on the Indians.

  • jared on January 21, 2014, 4:13 GMT

    im so pleased nz has taken a new approach to its bowling line up, we have never had the best batters so we need attacking bowlers like mclenaghan to try and get teams out cheaply, it won't work all the time but it is a better approach than just trying to contain teams who arn't really looking to attack much untill the 35th over anyway but if a team is 5 down at the 35th they can't set to launch like they would if they were only 3 down so you have to find bowlers that take wickets rather than just being economical this is where nathan mccullum has to lift his game and take more wickets, he's doing an ok job but every team needs a spinner who takes wickets and mccullum doesn't take many, lucky for us our seamers are doing a great job lead by the man with the golden arm, mcclenaghan.

  • ESPN on January 21, 2014, 3:30 GMT

    Indian fans change ther tune so fast ! Last weeks it was how bad nz are and the Definite 5 0 series line, really annoying stuff either your a fan or not . Wake up call at least . I'm a nz fan but Kholi is a massive problem that needs to be solved or mark my words India will win this series cause sharma Raina and dharwan won't fail often. Reminds me of an Indian Clarke more wristy but so similar through the offside . Same presence at the cress great players.

  • Dummy4 on January 21, 2014, 3:10 GMT

    'So in a way it was bad luck that Dhoni's unjudicious selection to go for that shot when the new bowler was introduced. He should have at least played a few deliveries before going for the risky shot. That was the crucial wkt. in what would have been an Indian win.'

    So, basically, if he hadn't got out, India would've won? I think you could make the same argument for any batsmen on any team that ever lost an ODI. That's how the game works.

    Batsmen make a mistake, they get out before scoring enough runs and the team loses.

  • Dummy4 on January 21, 2014, 2:59 GMT

    I would play McClenaghan in the 2 tests . My test team would be Rutherford,Ryder,Williamson,Taylor, McCullum,Anderson,Watling,Southee, Sodhi, Boult and McClenahan. ( Other option is to go without spinner, use Williamson and have Ronchi in as wicketkeeper and use Watling as batsman only.

  • James on January 21, 2014, 1:52 GMT


    "NZ has done a great job rebuilding their team since they were so unimpressive in the Champions Trophy and the WC 2011."

    NZ were in the semis of WC 2011, the only non-subcontinent team to do so...

  • hayden on January 21, 2014, 1:51 GMT

    @bigindianfan - nz pitches aren't responsive at all these days to the point where there has been a number of complaints about them. they're beautiful pitches but they are too well manicured.

    sure we weren't great at the champions trophy, we had a win against sri lanka, a loss against england, and the other game was rained out but we did alright at the wc, we were the only non-subcontinent team to make the semis. I think it's a bit harsh to call us 'so unimpressive'.

    Yea i agree with the other posters, not express pace, doesn't move the ball around yet at the moment his strike rate is the best of easily the best of all-time. IT's definately all about his positive attacking attitude at this point. Will be interesing to see if he can keep it up or whether players get use to him and he starts to decline. Shane bond is bowling coach so i wouldn't put it past mitch improving his action either.

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