Off the Mark: Chapman begins a new chapter in International Cricket

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Its the 14th over of the Blackcaps’ innings in the fourth match of the Trans-Tasman T20I tri-series at Westpac Stadium in Wellington. Adil Rashid has just missed out on a hattrick, after dismissing Martin Guptill and Colin de Grandhomme. A young 23-year-old southpaw by the name of Mark Chapman walks out to the middle to join Kane Williamson, the skipper.

It is the crucial phase of the innings and Chapman has some hitting to do being sent in before Mitchell Santner and Ross Taylor. Liam Plunkett bowls it a bit back of a length and Chapman plays it back to the bowler. The next ball is a very short delivery and its called a wide. Next delivery is fuller and Chapman works it towards mid-on for a single. He’s off the mark.

On November 16th, 2015 the same player made his International debut for Hong Kong versus UAE and made an immediate impact, scoring a match-winning 124. In doing so he joined an elite batch of cricketers who scored a ton on ODI debut, comprising of Desmond Haynes, Phil Hughes, Andy Flower and Martin Guptill.

He played 19 T20Is and two ODIs for his birth country, Hong Kong. He qualified to play for New Zealand by the virtue of having a Kiwi dad. His Blackcaps’ call-up came on the back of a stellar season for Auckland, having amassed 307 runs in the Super Smash at a strike rate of 172.
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His form continued in the Ford Trophy as he scored two centuries in seven innings to take his series tally to 433 runs. Pigeon-holed as a limited overs specialist, his ability to hit the ball in all areas makes him a real threat.

It showed during his 13-ball cameo on Tuesday. He witnessed three sixes being clobbered into the stands by skipper Williamson, from the non-striker’s end. It probably spurred him on as he hit David Willey for a six in the square leg stands in the next over. A little shuffle across the crease and a mighty swing off the pads has the crowd buzzing. Nice and still, wrists take over with a lot of power. Not the first time Kiwis witnessed it.

In the 19th over, he pulls Mark Wood powerfully for another maximum over deep midwicket. Fast wrists playing a perfect foil to the death over plans of English bowlers. A couple of balls later, its a heart-in-mouth moment for Chapman as a good flick is dropped by Billings at deep midwicket. Mark heaves a sigh of relief. It is shortlived as he pulls Wood again but doesn’t get the distance and Billings takes it easily.

Disappointment is written large on Chapman’s face but he’s left an indelible mark as he gives a good account of himself. Clearly, Hong Kong’s loss is New Zealand’s gain.

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