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The rise and rise of Colin Munro

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Colin_Munro_New_Zealand_CricketIn an era where T20 cricket has largely been about the bashing handed out by Chris Gayle and the thunderous run of form of Kohli, Smith and co., the rise of Colin Munro as a T20 specialist is indicative of a new type of player in the sport’s briefest format.

New Zealand now possess batsmen with the flair and firepower one had grown used to seeing mostly from the West Indies.

Tall, powerful and gifted with the ability to strike both good and bad balls cleanly, Munro is adept at making bowling attacks look half-baked on any given day.

India got a taste of the Munro style of bashing courtesy his fluent, unbeaten 109 at Rajkot. Bangladesh weren’t spared: his 54-ball 101 at Mount Maunganui sent Shakib, Mortaza and Rubel flying all over the park.

But the side that got the worst taste (of its own medicine, since its T20s we’re talking about) were the West Indies. If Munro had merely flexed his muscles against Bangladesh and India, he quite simply mauled the West Indies, his powerful hands wielding the willow like the paws of a lion.

He smashed an emphatic 220 runs from 3 T20I matches during West Indies’ ill-fated tour to New Zealand. The series deserved to be called the Colin Munro Trophy. It felt quite that way.

The likes of Kesrick Williams, Ashley Nurse, Samuel Badree and Carlos Brathwaite looked like a quartet of trembling newbies in front of the mighty blows bludgeoned by the New Zealander. Munro was hammering the clueless opposition like a carpenter at work in the woodshop.

His 37-ball 53 at Saxton Oval was just an appetizer for what was to follow. In the second T20I, of the 102 that New Zealand made in a rain-curtailed game at Mount Maunganui - ultimately called off due to rains - Munro alone accounted for 66. But he reserved his best for the final T20I.

This would turn out to be a blitzkrieg. Munro’s powerful drubbing of Windies’ jaded attack yielded 104 off just 53 balls, a T20 record in itself considering it featured 10 sixes. To understand the kind of walloping the West Indies bowlers endured, suffice to say that the best bowler in terms of economy was Rayad Emrit: 10.50 runs an over.

For a side that was composed of match-winners like Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson, every ball in the one-directional series had Colin Munro written all over it. It almost seemed that the experienced old guard - Guptill and Williamson - were watching the show from the sidelines, such was the power oozing from Munro’s bat.

But it would not be fair to restrict praise of Colin Munro’s heroics to his powerful bashing over long on and long off. Fans are often complicit in compartmentalizing big striking batsmen as being nothing but six hitters who constantly smash the ball miles into the air.

Munro, it appears, is a different creature. Essential to the craft of this fierce leftie is his ability to send the ball screaming to cover and point along the ground. Not a batsman with a gigantically high backlift. Nor a batsman who seems always willing to convert the 1s into 2s or 2s into 3s. Munro’s efficacy stems from his ability to find gaps, dispatching deliveries from the sweet spot in the middle of the bat.

It’s hardly a surprise that it is Munro, and not the likes of Gayle, Afridi, Warner or Kohli, who possesses an unbeaten record in T20I matches: scoring a T20I century on 3 different occasions. It is the kind of achievement any modern day wielder of the willow would give an arm or leg for.

And, nearing 31, hopefully with several cricketing summers left in him after just 40 T20s and 35 ODIs under his belt, Munro has only just begun. At least, that’s what New Zealand would hope.

It will no doubt bring dismay for bowlers who, until a couple of cricketing seasons ago were battling but only just reining in Corey Anderson (then New Zealand’s new monster on the T20 circuit). But that hope will also bring fierce power to a side that now has a batsman who knows how to get his bat talking.

 

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