Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
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Finn Allen's T20 strike rate of 178.92 is the best among batters who have played at least 50 innings in the format. That strike rate jumps up to 186.54 in the powerplay, and this ability to dash out of the blocks earned him an IPL gig with Royal Challengers Bangalore even before he had made his international debut for New Zealand.
Allen has since broken into the Vitality T20 Blast and The Hundred as well, his rise somewhat highlighting the changing landscape of cricket. But while he's hot property in the T20 world, does he have the range of skills to succeed in 50-overs cricket? On Tuesday, Allen was asked that question during New Zealand's second ODI against Ireland, on a Malahide pitch that was two-paced, offering assistance to both seamers and spinners, with the overnight and early-morning rains juicing it up even further.
After Matt Henry and Jacob Duffy swung the ball prodigiously in the powerplay in the afternoon, it was Mark Adair's turn to let it rip later in the evening in Ireland's defence of 216. Adair yorked Martin Guptill first ball and then breached Will Young's defences with a sharp inducker. New Zealand were 0 for 2 in two balls, and The Village raised itself in a massive roar.
In the early exchanges, Allen looked to bash his way out of trouble, like he often does at the Basin Reserve for Wellington Firebirds in the Super Smash. He dashed out of the crease to Craig Young but almost yorked himself in the process. He swung hard at a pull against Adair and almost ended up dragging it back onto his off stump. Soon after, he wound up for a lusty leg-side slog against Adair but missed the line.
But once he had sussed out the conditions, and when the ball stopped swinging, Allen's natural game came to the fore. Adair erred too full in the ninth over, and Allen walloped him for 6,4,4,4. Having scored just 6 off 18 balls at one stage, Allen charged to a 47-ball half-century, his first in ODIs, coming in just his second game. His 101-run third-wicket partnership with captain Tom Latham was central to New Zealand chasing down their target and wrapping up the three-ODI series with one game to go.
"I supposed I recognised that it wasn't easy early on" Allen told NZC's in-house media team after the game. "Me and Tommy had good comms. We kept each other in it and kept reiterating to trust our base and just go from there. There's lot more time than we realise at times in 50-over cricket, so it was nice to just sit in and bat with him and spend a bit of time in the middle and once we sort of got one away, we became a bit more free-flowing, which is nice."
Allen has played just 29 List A games so far, including his two ODIs, and and has an average of 27.96 to go with a strike rate of 108.71. As the first of those numbers might suggest, he's still learning to adjust to the pace and pattern of play of 50-overs cricket.
"Obviously having Tommy there... It helped a lot in talking with him but for me I'm still figuring out the pace at which I want to go about my one-day cricket and sometimes on those wickets, you have to sit in and realise that they're bowling well and get through that," Allen said. "We still finished the powerplay on 56, I guess, so we came out of it nicely.
"Just recognising that there are tough periods in the game that you've to get through and once you get through that, you're kind of set in a way. So, yeah, a lot of learnings for me today and obviously, as I said, nice to spend time with Tommy out there today."
New Zealand will be particularly pleased that Allen could adapt on a difficult pitch against a promising Ireland attack. They had to rejig their batting line-up to accommodate Allen at the top, with Henry Nicholls dropping down to the middle order. Allen's inclusion could potentially allow New Zealand to use their accidental T20 opener Daryl Mitchell as a finisher alongside Michael Bracewell in white-ball cricket.
Allen, who plays under Bracewell's captaincy at Firebirds, wasn't surprised by the allrounder's brilliance in Ireland. After securing an unlikely victory with his maiden ODI century in the series opener, Bracewell took 2 for 26 and made an unbeaten 42 off 40 balls in the second match. His figures on Tuesday were the most-economical ten-over spell by a New Zealand spinner since Daniel Vettori's 4 for 18 against Afghanistan in Napier during the 2015 World Cup.
"The Beast [Bracewell] was challenging the bat the whole innings and the whole time he was bowling," Allen said. "It was also really good to see him get the rewards for that and his batting has been pretty outstanding as well.
"He's done exactly what he's been doing in domestic cricket out here [in international cricket] and showing everyone what he can do. That guy has got ice in his veins and he backs himself 100%. He's got really good options that he's taking and he's just executing really well. So it's so good to see such an awesome guy and everyone back home is pretty stoked to see him do well. So it has been phenomenal to watch."