The rise and rise of Colin Munro
New Zealand have always boasted of hard-hitting, powerful batsmen at the top, be it the unorthodox Brendon McCullum or the flamboyant Martin Guptill. But now there is one name that has been the talk of the town in recent times due to his stellar performances in the shortest format of the game.
The man is Colin Munro. The dashing left-handed batsman is outshining everyone in T20 cricket and making the format his own.
He hit his strides early in the T20 format, playing a major role in the HRV Cup Triumphs of his domestic team, Auckland Aces. Munro displayed his fiery, reliable and strong hitting in crucial games which earned him a call-up for the T20I series against South Africa where he made his debut.
In the same series, he played his first and solitary Test, coming in for an injured James Franklin. He got out for a first-ball duck in the first innings.
Although Munro has been in and out of the ODI team, he has proved his mettle in the briefest form of the sport. His strong shots square of the wicket coupled with the hefty blows that send the ball sailing into the stands over long-on and long-off have become a regular feature wherever NZ play.
Both crafty and gritty, the left-handed batsmen has played knocks that have made T20 fans drool. The demolition began quick enough as he scored a 14-ball half-century against Sri Lanka. The innings consisted of seven monstrous sixes and was behind only Yuvraj's 12-ball fifty. There was no looking back from there.
The Munro Bulldozer crushed everyone that came its way. Bangladesh saw his wrath when the NZ batsman scored a solid 73 off just 39 balls. He scored consistently in the series against Sri Lanka and Pakistan as well.
However, his breakthrough into the limelight started in early 2017 when he hit his first T20I century, scoring a 54-ball 101 against Bangladesh at Mount Maunganui. He became only the third player after Guptill and McCullum to score a T20I hundred for the Kiwis.
From Mount Maunganui, Munro's wreck train traveled to Rajkot where he deposited the likes of Pandya, Axar and Siraj to score an unbeaten 109 which resulted in an emphatic NZ victory. Little did anybody realize that the unsparing NZ batsman had just started.
What followed in the series against West Indies made everyone watch his brilliance in awe. The man bludgeoned the helpless WI bowlers as he scored 54 and 66 in the first two T20Is. He saved his best for last as he smashed his way to a score of 104.
New Zealand won that game by a whopping 119 runs and the series 2-0 (1 NR). In a line-up that bragged of Guptill and Williamson, Munro made the headlines. He was the lone prominent factor in NZ's absolute domination over the two-time World T20 champions.
Since 2017, Munro has played 17 T20s and has scored 673 runs in them at an impressive average of 44.86. In contrast, he had scored 500 runs in 28 T20s prior to that. His last two tons have come in the space of two months.
This goes to show how good a form he is in since he hit his purple patch in 2017. His potential has been converted into match-winning contributions for the Black Caps.
Munro is the first player to score three T20I centuries and on the back of his performances, he became the top-ranked T20I batsman in the ICC Rankings in 2018. The growing stature of T20 cricket in the international arena and Munro's continuous climb promise a string of stellar performances from the NZ's top order batsman. He continued his efficacy in the recently concluded tri-nation T20 series in New Zealand where he scored a fifty each against Australia and England.
Munro was picked up by Delhi Daredevils in the IPL Auctions 2018 at a steal price of Rs. 1.8 Cr. With IPL just around the corner, the Daredevils fans must be licking their lips seeing the Kiwi star toy with bowling attacks at will in T20 Internationals.
Colin Munro is giving the already established T20 specialists like Kohli, Warner, Rohit a run for their money and one can foresee him emulating his performances for the Kiwis in the coming season of cricket.