T20 turn­around

Black Caps claim come­back vic­tory

Weekend Herald - - Front Page - Niall An­der­son at Eden Park

Two play­ers re­turn­ing to in­ter­na­tional cricket busted the Black Caps out of their Twenty20 slump last night. Af­ter more than a year away from the in­ter­na­tional arena, Doug Bracewell and Scott Kuggeleijn first saved the bats­men's blushes, then pro­duced with the ball and in the field as the Black Caps claimed a 35-run vic­tory over Sri Lanka in a one-off Twenty20.

Hav­ing lost their last six matches in the short­est for­mat, and 10 of their last 11, the match at Eden Park was a timely win for the Black Caps, and wrapped up a third se­ries vic­tory over Sri Lanka to end an ex­cel­lent tour.

Al­though the match hardly a pri­or­ity, as ev­i­denced by the Black Caps leav­ing their cap­tain, coach and best seamer out of the side, there was still plenty to glean from the per­for­mances of their re­turn­ing stand­outs.

The Black Caps in­di­cated their faith in Bracewell and Kuggeleijn's all­round abil­i­ties by nam­ing a side with just five spe­cial­ist bats­men, but they wouldn't have ex­pected to be call­ing on their bat­ting tal­ents so early.

Sri Lanka ripped through the New Zealand top or­der, with Colin Munro, Martin Gup­till and Tim Seifert all suc­cumb­ing to top edges. The trio were at­tempt­ing to play into the leg­side, but per­haps sur­prised by the pace and bounce in the wicket, all meekly skied de­liv­er­ies which were well taken by an im­proved Sri Lankan field­ing effort.

Add in Henry Nicholls last­ing only six balls, and it was 27-4, task­ing Ross Tay­lor and Mitchell Sant­ner with a re­build­ing effort — usu­ally not an op­ti­mal idea in the 20-over for­mat. Nine runs from 22 balls fol­lowed, and when Sant­ner de­parted at 55-5 af­ter 10 overs, the Black Caps' prospects of vic­tory looked slim.

How­ever, Tay­lor made 33 from 35 to at least steady pro­ceed­ings, be­fore com­bin­ing with Bracewell, who pro­duced some lusty blows in his re­turn to in­ter­na­tional cricket. Twenty-three came off a This­ara Perera over as part of an im­mensely valu­able 44 off 26 balls, be­fore Kuggeleijn then took over, bash­ing 35 off just 15 to see the Black Caps through to 179-7.

It was per­haps below-par but con­sid­er­ing how it be­gan, it was an ex­tremely handy to­tal, and reg­u­lar wick­ets fell in Sri Lanka's chase. Al­though the vis­i­tors were track­ing at

10 runs an over, Kuggeleijn and Bracewell took the vi­tal wick­ets of Kusal Perera and Niroshan Dick­wella re­spec­tively, and Lockie Fer­gu­son had ear­lier re­moved Sadeera Samarawickrama for a first-ball duck.

That brought This­ara Perera to the crease, and once again he posed the big­gest dan­ger to the Black Caps. The pow­er­ful all-rounder looked im­pe­ri­ous in carv­ing his way to 43 from 24 balls as Sri Lanka stayed ahead of the run rate, but a Fer­gu­son slower ball drew him into pick­ing out Bracewell at long-off, who took the catch.

Four balls later, Fer­gu­son yorked Dhanan­jaya de Silva.

From 118-4, Sri Lanka tum­bled to

144 all out. Ish Sodhi wrapped up the tail with three wick­ets.

Photo / Pho­to­sport

Re­turn­ing Black Cap Doug Bracewell helped salvage the New Zealand in­nings with the bat (44 runs off 26 balls) at Eden Park against Sri Lanka last night.


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