Dawid Malan and Chris Jordan prove their T20I utility with heroics on experimental New Zealand tour

Dawid Malan and Chris Jordan prove their T20I utility
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While Matthew Parkinson, James Vince, Tom Curran and others tasted some success, the two stars that shone the brightest for England were Chris Jordan and Dawid Malan.

"We feel that we actually need 16-17 guys to start in the playing eleven and then give them opportunities all along, trying to stick to their strengths and do what they do in international cricket. We are looking at seven guys and with couple of spots up for grabs, we are allowing guys to come in and grab opportunities," skipper Eoin Morgan said after England's 7-wicket win in the first T20I on the New Zealand tour.

The objective was clear. The team had their main focus on experimentation even if it came at the cost of a couple of wins. Winning, for once, was not the priority but individual performances were.

The team would not have been overly disappointed if they ended on the wrong side of the super over, and in effect, the series. But, the fact that they won the T20I series against a well-established New Zealand squad while touring with only three or four permanent players is a laudable feat.

While Matthew Parkinson, James Vince, Tom Curran and others tasted some success, the two stars that shone the brightest for England were Chris Jordan and Dawid Malan.

Dawid Malan

Malan had done decently with scores of 11 and 39 in the first two opportunities that he got against New Zealand. Steady but nothing extraordinary. While it may have been considered a good performance in teams with a weaker bench strength, Malan knew that he had to step up in order to have a chance of making it to the team's T20 squad for the World Cup next year.

Jason Roy and Jos Buttler are automatic picks in English T20I side. Jonny Bairstow is highly likely to feature in the side as well with Eoin Morgan, Ben Stokes and Joe Root occupying the other spots. There is hardly any opening in the batting line-up and this is when Tom Banton, Joe Denly and Alex Hales are waiting in the wings.

Malan duly responded with a half-century in the next match but his real moment came during his unbeaten 103-run knock in the fourth T20I, only the 2nd T20I ton for England.

It is knocks like these which have the maximum impact. A T20I average of 57.25 and strike-rate of 156.31 does have the capability to push the likes of Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow. A couple more like this and some luck on his side can see Malan on the flight to Australia.

At 32 years of age, he clearly does not have a lot of spare time. Malan's century has come at a very opportune time to keep him in the mix. It has also catapulted him ahead of Sam Billings and James Vince in the pecking order.

Chris Jordan

Chris Jordan is a unique story in himself. He has only featured in 8 Test matches in his career and had established himself in the ODI team at one point, with 31 ODIs under his belt. But with Mark Wood, David Willey and Jofra Archer coming in, he is currently considered only for the England T20I side.

Interestingly, the bowler has almost always featured in the T20I team in the last 27 matches played since the 2016 T20 World Cup. With 7 wickets from 4 games, the second-highest in the five-match series, Jordan has now picked up 54 wickets from 43 T20Is at a bowling average of under 25.

He can also score some useful runs lower down the order. It was his 6, 2, 4 off the last three deliveries that took England to the super over and eventually to victory in the last T20I. The 32-year-old seems to have done enough to have already sealed his spot for the tour Down Under.

It is also notable that Jordan has the confidence and the backing of the skipper. This is why when the team was faced with the cruch super over situation with the series on the line, the captain entrusted the ball to his most senior bowler and he did not disappoint. With New Zealand needing 18 runs to win, Jordan showed his full array of slower deliveries, yorkers and wide yorkers to restrict the Kiwis to just 7.

Pressure is one of the biggest factors in T20 cricket and a compliment that Jordan remains "extremely calm under pressure" when coming from the skipper, tells a thing or two about the pacer's future in England clothing.

Hence, if Morgan was looking to fill only a "couple of spots" for the T20 World Cup, those in all likelihood, have already been taken.

©Cricket World 2019