An inspired effort from all-rounder Doug Bracewell helped New Zealand to an exciting win in the lone Twenty20 International against Sri Lanka at the Eden Park in Auckland.
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Meanwhile, a late resurgence with the bat helped New Zealand post 179 for seven after stumbling to 55 for five at the halfway mark. Then Sri Lanka looked like they were bossing the chase at 94 for three in under 10 overs before New Zealand’s bowlers made a roaring comeback for a 35-run win
However, batting first, New Zealand were in hot water at 27 for four, and their comeback from there was rather remarkable. Lasith Malinga and Kasun Rajitha extracted an element of awkward bounce from the pitch to trouble the New Zealand top-order batsmen. Ross Taylor too looked uncomfortable early on in his innings but was able to battle through for a steadying 33 off 37 balls. He started playing some aggressive shots in the end until he was caught by the keeper off Thisara Perera’s bowling as he edged a massive heave. The real fightback came from Bracewell and Scott Kuggeleijn. The duo added 41 rapid runs together for the seventh wicket before Southee joined in to lay the finishing touches.
In his 26-ball stay at the crease, Bracewell smashed five sixes and a four to race to 44 while Kuggeleijn accounted for unbeaten 35 including four sixes to post 179 runs.
The chase, however, didn’t start well for Sri Lanka as Lockie Ferguson dismissed Sadeera Samarawickrama for a golden duck in the very first over. Niroshan Dickwella and Kusal Perera then added 30 quick runs before getting out in a space of five balls. Thisara Perera smacked a 24-ball 43 including two fours and three sixes but once he got out, it was all over for the visitors.
New Zealand used six bowlers on the night, and all returned with rewards, but it was the duo of Lockie Ferguson and Ish Sodhi, who returned three-wicket hauls and caused maximum damage.
New Zealand 179/7 in 20 overs (Ross Taylor 33, Doug Bracewell 44, Scott Kuggeleijn 35*; Kasun Rajitha 3-44) beat Sri Lanka 144 in 16.5 overs (Kusal Perera 23, Thisara Perera 43; Lockie Ferguson 3-21, Ish Sodhi 3-30) by 35 runs.