New Zealand batsman Henry Nicholls has heaped praise on young Finn Allen and has claimed that the aggression the 22-year-old brings at the top of the order instills confidence in the rest of the unit.
Allen missed the first two T20Is of the ongoing five-match series against Bangladesh due to Covid, but returned in the third T20I and played a mini-cameo that instantly put the Kiwis on the front foot. Allen’s cameo (15) last just 10 balls, but inside the first two overs his onslaught helped the visitors send a message to the hosts.
Nicholls, ahead of the fourth T20I, said that Allen’s confidence is contagious, and insisted that his aggression at the top of the order helps the BlackCaps get ahead in matches.
"Having Finn in the line-up - the way he came out yesterday and the way he plays and the way he dominates attacks, he gave the guys a lot of confidence," Nicholls said, reported ESPN Cricinfo.
"You see, he doesn't lack a lot of confidence, which probably helps. Even throughout the Super Smash, the way he performed and got his opportunity with the Black Caps and in the Bangladesh series, he was full of confidence.
"He obviously has an amazing skillset and he's already been in environments like the IPL and in England [T20 Blast and the Hundred] as well, which only further enhances it for him.
“He's certainly got that X-factor, which he can go from ball one. In these conditions, getting off to a flier gets you ahead in the game, which is massively important."
Allen’s 10-ball 15 gave New Zealand a lift, and the rest of the batsmen capitalized on the good start as New Zealand posted 128 to win the third T20I and stay alive in the series. It was a much-improved batting performance from the visitors, who were bundled out for a record-low 60 in the first game, and Nicholls said that it has been pleasing to see all the players learn on the job effectively.
“Yeah, it's great. From where we started in the first match and right through yesterday, the conditions have all varied in each game, which is a challenge in itself," Nicholls said.
"I think, as a group, we're pretty inexperienced, and it's been great to see guys learning on the job effectively.
"Tom [Latham], as captain, has been really clear with the guys and, I guess, knowing it is tough and also looking for us to find ways to make improvements and if we keep doing that each game, those results will come.
“So, it's obviously nice to get that yesterday and I guess for the guys to really feel that to turn the tables on Bangladesh and put them under a little bit of pressure that it can be tough for them as well."
Prior to this tour Nicholls had last played a T20I in 2019, but the absence of regulars forced the selectors to go to the southpaw, who has ample experience batting in the sub-continent. Nicholls’ experience showed in the third T20I, where he scored an unbeaten 36 to take the Kiwis to a fighting total, and speaking of his recall to the T20I side, the 29-year-old insisted that he’s enjoyed burdening responsibility.
"Yeah, certainly getting into this tour, that's something I was excited about. Being more of an experienced player and knowing the stuff on the park is important but touring in general - a lot of young guys are probably on their first overseas tour... So for me and the likes of Tom, as captain, and for the other experienced guys, just sharing that knowledge with them and really enjoying the role of taking a bit more responsibility.
"As I said, the cricket is important, but when you come to these parts of the world, you're spending a lot of time at the hotel and a lot of time with each other, so you try to make sure that everyone is pretty level - good or bad - and knowing that there's always another challenge on the horizon, that's two days' time for us."