After having scrapped to the title in 2019-20, the Firebirds thoroughly dominated this season, securing their fourth domestic T20 crown and second on the bounce at the Basin Reserve.
He was the fire to Conway's ice. He rattled off 512 runs in 11 innings at a stellar strike rate of 193.93, and nobody had more sixes than his tally of 25. Much like Brendon McCullum and his protégé Tim Seifert, the opener regularly dashed down the track to bend attacks out of shape. That Allen could do so against New Zealand internationals suggests that he isn't too far away from making his international debut. A day after winning the Super Smash, Allen was picked in the New Zealand T20I squad as cover for the forthcoming T20I series against Australia.
The allrounder, who had been sidelined from the internationals against West Indies as well as Pakistan with a foot injury, was back in action although he didn't bowl. He had last taken the ball in the four-day Plunket Shield in October 2020. He played four games for the Knights as a specialist batsman, making 51 runs at a strike rate of nearly 160.
After being dropped from the T20I squad, Ross Taylor was asked to prove his form in the Super Smash. He returned to the competition after four years, and had mixed returns: 125 runs in six innings at a strike rate of nearly 165. Although Taylor showed signs of his best during his 25-ball half-century for the Stags against the Kings, he fell for a duck in the preliminary final as the Stags crashed out. With the younger players like Conway and Glenn Phillips stepping up for the New Zealand middle-order role, and Allen too throwing his hat into the T20 World Cup ring, Taylor probably needs to do more if he is to win his spot back.
All up, 20 New Zealanders have made the cut with Kyle Jamieson, Tim Southee and Corey Anderson in the top bracket, listing their base prices at INR 75 lakh ($US 103,000 approx.). Jamieson, who enjoyed a bumper home season, particularly with the ball, could be a hot pick among the overseas quicks. In January, coach Gary Stead, who has overseen Jamieson's progress from his domestic side Canterbury to the national team, reckoned that the presence of New Zealand coaches in the IPL might be "one of the advantages" for him.
Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo