When he is not scything balls through the offside, keeping wicket or bowling part-time off-spin, Glenn Phillips is a livewire in the field, plucking catches while airborne and then flipping around to face the crowd and breaking into showman celebrations. “I look to entertain as much as possible,” he said on Saturday after treating the Sydney Cricket Ground to his antics and acrobatics.
A magnificent 💯
— ICC (@ICC) October 29, 2022
He also conducted some serious business along the way, reviving New Zealand from 15 for 3 to 167 for 7 against Sri Lanka on a spongy pitch with his second T20I century – also the second hundred of this T20 World Cup – an innings that turned the game around so stunningly that a shocked Sri Lanka were shot out for 102 in response.
Dropped on 12 – a sitter by Pathum Nissanka off Wanindu Hasaranga – and 45 – a tougher chance floored by skipper Dasun Shanaka off Chamika Karunaratne – Phillips made Sri Lanka pay for their generally disappointing fielding performance.
Having built his way to a fifty in 39 balls, he took just 22 more to reach his hundred, smoking 10 fours and four sixes. And this on a pitch where the ball was holding up and climbing tennis-ball-like even from a good length, on which even the usually solid Kane Williamson had succumbed cheaply.
The captain’s fall had compounded New Zealand’s problems after their openers had fallen to the early spin salvo from Sri Lanka. Young Finn Allen was done in by a lovely in-swinging, thumb-back-spun delivery from Maheesh Theekshana in the first over, and left-hander Devon Conway was bowled more conventionally by the flighted, drifting off-spin of Dhananjaya de Silva from round the stumps in the third.
— ICC (@ICC) October 29, 2022
This wasn’t a surface to launch into an immediate counter-attack, despite two overs remaining in the Powerplay, so Daryl Mitchell and Phillips dug in; in fact, it wouldn’t until the 14th over that New Zealand’s run rate ticked past a run a ball.
But Phillips has not developed his reputation for being a very effective batsman through the middle overs for nothing. Given the slightest of width, he flays the ball in the arc between extra cover and backward point with immense power.
So although he got only one four between the end of the Powerplay and the start of the 14th over, Phillips kept the Sri Lankan deep fielders busy and under pressure. They employed a deep backward point in addition to the conventional sweeper for him, but he still placed several twos in that region, even running three on one occasion despite the shorter square boundaries at the SCG.
Change of tempo
On 41 off 36, he suddenly shifted gears, taking 18 off the 14th over bowled by Karunaratne after being dropped a second time. There was the typical scythe for four in front of square, but there was also a slogged four and another one placed deftly to the left of deep backward point.
Now he began to hit outrageous strokes. The straight boundary at the SCG is monstrously long, but Phillips comfortably dumped Lahiru Kumara over long-on, incredibly, off a slower ball. Successive shortish balls from Theekshana sat up without any pace on them, and Phillips rocked back, lurching across the turf with the effort as he flat-batted both over the straight boundary again.
He roared and roared in an utterly un-Kiwi manner after mowing Theekshana to deep square leg to bring up his hundred. He missed the odd slower one in between, and threatened to throw his bat away in frustration once, ending up staring hard at the pitch. Just before holing out in the last over, he crouched in relay-runner mode inside the non-striker’s crease, and dashed across in no time for a single.
His idiosyncrasies make him stand out, as does the fact that his innings was so far out in front of everyone else – the next highest score from any of his teammates was Mitchell’s 22.
“On a pitch like that, it was a little difficult to hit slower balls, but at the end, we were a little bit ahead of par,” Phillips would say.
Way above par, it was to prove. Tim Southee and Trent Boult needed to be nothing more than persistent and accurate on that awkward good length, as Sri Lanka imploded. Nissanka went leg-before to Southee in the first over, Kusal Mendis nicked a flashy drive behind in the second, and de Silva bottom-edged Boult onto his stumps three balls later. To seal the deal, Charith Asalanka smacked Boult straight to point, and Karunaratne hacked Mitchell Santner’s first ball straight to deep midwicket. At 24 for 5 just after the Powerplay, it was game over.
There was still time for Phillips to cramp and hop around for a few seconds in the outfield, then give up, hobble off and collapse dramatically on his back in front of the dugout, only to be up smiling later to collect the Player-of-the-Match award. Even his exits steal the show.
Brief scores: New Zealand 167/7 (Philips 104; Rajitha 2/23) beat Sri Lanka 102 (Shanaka 35, Rajapaksa 34; Boult 4/13, Santner 2/21, Sodhi 2/21) by 65 runs