Explosive NZ batsman offers a peek into the way his mind works after he helped beat Bangladesh in Auckland
In explaining how he got off the mark with a reverse sweep in two successive T20Is, Finn Allen provided a glimpse into his mindset. He used the word fearless up front. It can come across as a word that is overused but this 21-year old really does bat like that. For proof, check out his 29-ball 71 in a rain-reduced game that helped New Zealand to a 65-run win in Auckland.
His ten fours and three sixes was a reflection of how he batted during this season’s Super Smash. Allen scored 512 runs at 193.93 strike-rate in 11 games. It is the third-highest strike-rate among batsmen with 500-plus runs in a T20 tournament. Big-hitting luminaries Andre Russell and Alex Hales are the other two, but neither were playing their first T20 tournament like Allen.
When asked why he played a reverse sweep to get off the mark in the second T20I in Napier, especially after his golden duck on debut, Allen said that he backs himself to pull it off despite the risks involved.
“It was just about being fearless, continuing to be like that from the Super Smash,” he said. “The fear of not getting out and wanting to take it to the opposition. I felt like it is a shot that I worked on a lot against left-arm spin this summer.
“I thought that it is a shot I play a lot so why not pull it out [against Nasum Ahmed]? It doesn’t matter the situation. I could have easily thought I haven’t scored a run yet, just get one under the belt. But I felt like it was the best option for me. Talking to Guptill at the other end, he said back yourself and back your skills. I went for it.”
Allen did the same at Eden Park on Thursday. After Martin Guptill hogged most of the strike in the first two overs, Allen reverse swept Ahmed over point for four. He cultivated the shot originally as a means to counter Mitchell Santner in the Super Smash but is now finding a lot more uses for it.
“I just felt it was a good option,” Allen said. “The whole field was up and I knew roughly what he was trying to bowl. I felt like it was a good match-up for me. I was lucky that it came off. We just went from there.
“I found out a lot of guys got out trying to hit Mitch Santner down the ground. I wanted to hit the reverse sweep but over the top, which is a potential boundary option for me. I think I spent two or three days batting left-handed against the spinners in the nets. Luckily it came off and just kept going from there.”
Once he had struck that first four, he struck two more off the next couple of deliveries and added a straight six to take 19 off the Ahmed over. New Zealand were away with both Guptill and Allen going after literally every delivery.
Allen’s best shot was perhaps the square-cut six over point off Rubel Hossain, that leapt high into the Eden Park stands.”From the beginning I felt I was in the zone. I was focused on my partner and the bowler. I didn’t hear anything else. (In the end), I had a moment to appreciate the guys who hung around in the rain to watch us. It was pretty cool,” he said.
But the T20I series against Bangladesh weren’t all bed of roses for Allen. It taught him that in international cricket, you can’t always rely on plan A.
“With all the games I play, I want to have the same brand. I want to approach it in the same aggressive way. But I think this series has made me realise I need to have more options. Get in similar positions and look to be dominant, but have more than one option for a particular delivery,” he said.
Also helping Allen perform the way he liked was a dressing room full of people offering him their unstinting support. “I definitely didn’t think it would be so easy to integrate into an international side. I think it just shows how good the group is. The coaching staff made it easy for me to fit in and feel comfortable. It helped my confidence to go out there and play the way I did. It is a similar way Wellington brought me in here,” he said.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84