Doug Bracewell gave the world a good look at his batting ability, scoring a rapid 44 to rescue New Zealand from an unenviable position against Sri Lanka.
The all-rounder has been part of the New Zealand set up since 2011 without really able to pin down a position, a fact he admitted caused him frustration. Coming into the T20I against Sri Lanka, he hadn't played an international game in over a year.
The bowler and lower-order batsman was part of the squad for the preceding ODIs too, but had to warm the benches. It was an injury to Jimmy Neesham that gave Bracewell the chance to shine, and he grabbed it gleefully. Coming in to bat at 55/5, he scored a speedy 44 off just 26 balls, including five sixes, to propel the hosts to 179/7.
Lockie Ferguson and Ish Sodhi take three wickets each as New Zealand fight back from a poor start to win the one-off T20I against Sri Lanka by 35 runs! #NZvSL SCORECARD ⬇️ https://t.co/wLZye9imj4pic.twitter.com/Sol8eUBx6t— ICC (@ICC) January 11, 2019
Until this match, Bracewell hadn't yet shown his skill with the bat at international level – his highest score prior to this was 30. So it's no surprise that the knock has instilled renewed belief in the 28-year-old.
He was thankful for the 47-run stand he shared with the experienced Ross Taylor, and felt that spending time with the senior batsman helped calm his nerves.
"It's really good for my confidence, to be honest," Bracewell said. "I haven't shown my abilities at international level, which has been frustrating, and at times I've put myself under pressure and tried a bit too hard. It hasn't worked out. I went back to basics, and got an opportunity to bat a bit of time today. Batting with Ross, who is an experienced player, helped as well."
For Sri Lanka, the tour ended on a sour note. They lost the two-Test series 1-0, went down in all three ODIs and then messed up a good opportunity to close out with a positive performance.
Skipper Malinga, who himself set-up a good start for the side with two early wickets to reduce New Zealand to 27/4, rued the inability of batsmen to close out the game after being in a strong position at one stage. They were looking good at 94/3 but lost their way, eventually bowled out for 144 in 16.5 overs.
"On this kind of ground, with small boundaries, 180 is a gettable target," Malinga said. "We have seven genuine batsmen in our side, and they have to realise the situation. They have to capitalise and finish the game. This is quite a big thing in the last couple of years. They still haven't understood how valuable finishing the match for the side is.
"A finisher is a very valuable player in the playing XI. When there are two guys there, they have to believe that they are the finishers. Don't leave it to others."
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