Cricket: Who will open with Martin Guptill for the Black Caps?

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New Zealand opening batsmen Luke Ronchi, left, and Tom Latham. Photo / Getty

By Andrew Alderson

The New Zealand cricket team can opt for conservative or aggressive strategies in selecting who opens with Martin Guptill at next month's Champions Trophy.

Opt for Tom Latham, and the team might get regular runs at a steady strike rate; choose Luke Ronchi and a game could be wrested away from the opposition, at high risk, in a matter of overs.

The opening wins of the current tri-series against Ireland and Bangladesh provided evidence of the pair's strengths.

Latham scored 15 off 25 balls against Ireland, and 54 off 64 balls against Bangladesh to anchor a Clontarf ground-record chase of 258.

Ronchi contributed 37 off 26 balls and 27 off as many balls in those respective matches, but could he blitz such cameos through the tournament?

Whichever of the pair is chosen for the Champions Trophy will keep wicket.

The advantage of Latham is that he can provide an anchor to work the strike, allowing Guptill to free his arms and clear his hip. Conversely, Ronchi could act as the aggressor, giving Guptill the chance to build an innings.

The latter only becomes an option because of the faith placed in Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor as safety nets - pressure they are accustomed to.

Ronchi has delivered two sound performances with the gloves in Ireland, accruing a catch and two stumpings while conceding four byes off Ish Sodhi to Niall O'Brien.

Continued below.

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During the summer, the ODI series loss against South Africa was seen as a forum to decide whether Latham or Ronchi would take the gloves at the Champions Trophy before talents like Tom Blundell or Glenn Phillips are developed next summer.

Neither Latham nor Ronchi excelled with the bat, but both delivered largely flawless performances behind the stumps.

At the time, coach and selector Mike Hesson said: "We're delighted with their excellent standard of wicketkeeping.

"But there's no doubt both were short of runs. Tom and Luke are aware of that more than anybody.

"However, it wasn't long ago Tom was a really good performer for us at the top of the order. Both are quality players who have gone through a tough period."

Before this morning's half-century, Latham had not passed 22 in eight ODI innings. Yet he topped the New Zealand averages on October's ODI tour of India with 244 runs at 61 as a specialist batsman. He completed his ODI best of 137 in the Boxing Day match against Bangladesh.

Faith in Ronchi's batting requires a better memory. He has not passed 50 in 34 ODI innings since clocking what remains the world record No.7 score of 170 not out against Sri Lanka in Dunedin on January 23, 2015. However, many of those innings required swashbuckling in the death overs.

New Zealand's next game is against Ireland back at Dublin's Malahide ground, starting Sunday night.

Matt Henry, Corey Anderson and Adam Milne are expected to be available. Neil Wagner has returned to his county side Essex. Jeetan Patel will join the squad the day before the final game of the tri-series on May 24.

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