Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
ZIM v BDESH (1)
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RL Cup (5)
Adam Milne was fitter than ever before and at the peak of his bowling powers in 20-over cricket in the lead up to the T20 World Cup. Originally, there was no room for him in New Zealand's 15-man squad, but a calf tear to Lockie Ferguson has now provided him a way back into the side's World Cup plans.
In the 2015 ODI World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, Milne had been sidelined from the semi-finals and the final with a heel injury, but six years later, the stars are aligning for him in the UAE.
"Obviously, it was a bit of a roller-coaster ride the other day [Tuesday] with obviously Lockie going down and then sort of being told: 'You are in', and then a few things happening and yeah it's exciting to be in [the team]," Milne said during a virtual media interaction. "The good thing was I was already part of the group, so it's exciting to now have the opportunity to potentially play some games in this World Cup and hopefully make a difference with the New Zealand team.
"When we got to the ground [in Dubai], Gary [Stead, the head coach] came up and sort of had a word to me. I think it was a decent drive to the ground - 60 minutes - I had a little bit of a nap on that (laughs). I think there might have been some things going on behind the scenes while I was having a bit of a snooze, but officially at the ground, they sort of said: 'Look, the ICC hasn't allowed it [yet]'. Unfortunate - just the way things go."
Haris Rauf's pace - and change of pace in particular - rocked New Zealand on Tuesday, leading Pakistan to their second successive victory in this tournament. Milne reckoned that he might have made a similar impact had his inclusion been rubber-stamped by the ICC before the game had got underway. After New Zealand's opener, Stead said that legspinner Ish Sodhi would have sat out for Milne had the quick been made available for selection by the ICC.
"Yeah, I think so. If you looked at the way the pitch played and the pitches played throughout the course of the IPL, the faster guys that have been able to hit the wicket hard and create uneven bounce [and] have caused problems to batters," Milne said. "I think the way that their bowlers... Haris Rauf is similar, very fast and hits the wicket hard and causes a bit of inconsistent bounce to pick up wickets. I think I'd have been able to add something to the team but it wasn't to be, and I thought our guys bowled really well and unfortunately for us, they came out and batted really well towards that end part of the game."
Milne brings with him terrific form from the Vitality Blast and the Hundred, and he hoped that the recent stints will hold him in good stead at the T20 World Cup. He was particularly potent in the inaugural Hundred, where he was the only bowler to concede at less than a run a ball, for Birmingham Phoenix in their path to the final.
'Yeah, I definitely feel like this has been the best period of cricket I've had in a long, long time," Milne said. "I'd love to make the most of it and continue to use this period to develop and perform really well at a high level. This is definitely the best period of consistent cricket I've had for a long, long time. So, I'm excited to hopefully make a difference with the ball in these games here and really prove this period has been influential for me.
"I think the form is purely down to be able to play that consistent cricket. Prior to this sort of period, I've played a few games, injury, sort of rehabbed and come back. You don't sort of get that nice flow and rhythm to your bowling you need over a consistent period of time. The changes that I've made to get that consistent cricket, I wouldn't say there has been anything major. I've sort of slightly adjusted things I do physically, how I prepare and strength and fitness-wise, but I wouldn't say there's been massive switches."
This version of Milne isn't just about sheer pace. Having also added the in-to-the-pitch cutters to his repertoire, he is aiming to make the most of his variations in the UAE.
"I've always tried to develop some sort of options with the slower balls that can do different things," Milne said. "I've learnt the cutters and different slower balls into the wicket, especially in grounds over here probably proved the most effective. So, yeah, sort of been working on those and perfecting and use them at the right time, which has been successful."
On Sunday, Milne will come up against Jasprit Bumrah, the leader of the Indian attack, from whom he has picked up a few T20 tricks during his stint with Mumbai Indians in the IPL.
"The IPL brings a really cool opportunity for all overseas cricketers to work with not only with the other overseas, but the Indian guys as well," Milne said. "To watch Jasprit go about his work and sort of talk to him and learn off him has been really cool and as well as the likes of Coultsy (Nathan Coulter-Nile), and when I was with RCB, learning off some other guys there."