Tom Latham proud of New Zealand's revival despite loss

Stand-in captain took the game to the last ball before New Zealand went 2-0 down

Deivarayan Muthu
Tom Latham was the only New Zealand batter to build an innings, Bangladesh vs New Zealand, 2nd T20I, Dhaka, September 3, 2021

Tom Latham took the innings deep but couldn't pull it off at the end  •  AFP/Getty Images

Before the Bangladesh tour, Tom Latham had last played a T20I in November 2017. Before the Bangladesh trip, Latham had last played a T20 on January 19, 2019, when he cracked 110 off 60 balls for Canterbury against Central Districts in the Super Smash. On the eve of the series opener, Latham couldn't quite recall his last T20 outing although he guessed that it might have been in 2019.
Two years later, in the midst of a pandemic, Latham is now the captain of an under-strength New Zealand touring side, which capitulated to 60 all out in the first T20I on Wednesday. In the second match, Latham did the role that regular captain Kane Williamson so often does for New Zealand: steady the ship. Latham scored his maiden T20I half-century and nearly rescued New Zealand on another Dhaka turner even as his team kept sinking.
Latham bumped himself up to No.3 and came out to bat in a stiff chase of 142 after opener Rachin Ravindra had swung so hard at a Shakib Al Hasan dart that he lost his shape and was bowled for 10 off nine balls. Ravindra had similarly rushed into a leg-side clip in the first T20I and offered a simple return catch, falling for a duck on debut. The entire New Zealand batting line-up had rushed into things and unraveled spectacularly on Wednesday. Two days later, Latham showed his team-mates the way to bat in tough Dhaka conditions, in serene, unhurried fashion.
He was either fully forward or right back to the spinners and took calculated risks against the seamers, even though Mustafizur Rahman and Mohammad Saifuddin regularly cut their pace and bowled into the pitch. After reaching 23 off 22 balls, he delayed his short-arm jab against a Saifuddin cutter and manufactured his own pace to ping the ball to the midwicket boundary. Latham then delayed his slog-sweep against another slower delivery from Saifuddin and cleared the midwicket boundary. However, the pick of the shots was his hoicked four between deep midwicket and wide long-on off Mustafizur in the 18th over.
It eventually came down to Mustafizur vs Latham in the final over, with New Zealand needing 19. After Mustafizur rolled out one cutter after another, he uncharacteristically missed his length and sent a beamer fifth ball, which Latham flapped away to the fine-leg boundary to bring it down to six off the last ball. Mustafizur ditched the cutter for the last ball and thumped out a hard-length on-pace delivery, keeping Latham to a mere single. Nevertheless, Latham was particularly pleased with how New Zealand took the game deep and challenged Bangladesh after folding for their joint-lowest T20I total earlier in the week.
"Yeah obviously, it was a great game and [good] to take it down to the last over, considering how things went in the first game," Latham told the host broadcaster at the post-match presentation. "For us, it's about trying to learn from what we did in that first game and I thought we did that really well, especially with the bat we were able to build partnerships and take it down to the last over, with a chance of winning was outstanding. We probably weren't quite as good with the ball today, but still I think we bowled really well up top.
"Partnerships work slightly differently. Obviously, my role was to try and bat through the innings and the other guys were able to try and be a little bit more explosive and that's going to happen in T20 cricket - you're going to lose wickets. I thought the guys coming in did a really good job. As I said, to take it to the last over and learn from what happened in the first T20... I'm really proud of the guys. The way we managed to change things around."
Ravindra said that at one stage during the death, New Zealand believed that Latham could actually pull off a heist. "Obviously, it's niggly to win those close games, but it shows the improvement that we had between game one and game two and to get to the last ball," Latham said. "Obviously credit to Tommy Latham. It was an incredible innings, it was amazing to watch and he showed how to bat in these conditions and the leadership he showed was incredible.
"He looked in such control, so we all were just like: 'okay, this could happen here'. Obviously, a bit of drama at the end, which made us a little bit more tense. But, yeah, it was incredible to see him - the way he was working singles and hitting the boundary and looked like he really knew his options, which is something we all can take and learn from."
With the series on the line, now it's up to the other New Zealand batters to adopt Latham's template.

Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo