WELLINGTON (Reuters) - New Zealand’s troubled middle order is likely to be boosted by the return of Ross Taylor from a quadriceps injury for the crucial fourth one-day international against England in Dunedin on Wednesday.
Taylor, who appeared to hurt himself while diving to avoid a run out in the second game at Mount Maunganui, missed the third game in Wellington, which England won by four runs to take a 2-1 lead in the five-match series.
The 33-year-old said he had been hit several times by the ball while batting, which prevented him from turning fast enough after some superb fielding by David Willey cut off his chances of running a quick single.
“Should be fine for tomorrow. It’s nice to be ready to play,” he told reporters in Dunedin ahead of the game at University Oval. “I’ve had massages on it, acupuncture, stretching and swimming.
“I got hit during the game in Hamilton, then hit on the same spot in training twice. The leg was saying it had had enough then Willey got me.”
His return would be a timely boost for the side.
Apart from Taylor’s century in the first game and Kane Williamson’s 112 not out in the third, New Zealand’s middle order and all-rounders have struggled to produce consistently during the series.
Auckland batsman Mark Chapman, who was an injury replacement for Williamson and then Taylor, scored one in the second game and then threw his wicket away for eight in Wellington.
Henry Nicholls has scored a total of one run in three matches, while Tom Latham, who helped Taylor to New Zealand’s three-wicket victory in the first game in Hamilton with 79, scored just 22 and a golden duck in the next two matches.
Colin de Grandhomme has had scores of two, 38 and three.
Mitchell Santner, batting at number eight, has been the only player in New Zealand’s middle order to score consistently.
He belted 45 not out in Hamilton, top scored with 63 not out in Mount Maunganui then was unluckily run out for 41 in Wellington as he and Williamson looked well set to win the game after New Zealand lost five for 23 in the middle stages.
Taylor, however, said his side were well aware of their issues and were still in the series if they were sensible about how they batted at University Oval.
“It’s no use going out there helter-skelter, then falling for spit and playing catch up the whole time,” Taylor said.
“All the players know their roles, hopefully I can take it deep and then the power players do their job at the end.
“We’re still in the series and hopefully we can level it up tomorrow.”
Writing by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Peter Rutherford