Michael Bracewell’s (127*): The Centrepiece Of Incredible New Zealand Drama
A day after the Irish rugby team stunned the All Blacks in Dunedin, the Irish cricket team threatened to do the same in Malahide against the Black Caps. For much of the game, it appeared that Irish sports fans would have an even more memorable weekend, but Sunday’s cricket match ended in heartbreak for the sell-out crowd after Michael Bracewell smashed an unbeaten 127 off 82 balls in only his fourth ODI to snatch victory with one wicket and one ball to spare.
Bracewell’s maiden ODI century surpassed Harry Tector’s, denying Ireland their first international victory against New Zealand. Curtis Campher had just yorked Martin Guptill for 51 as Bracewell stepped out to bat, and New Zealand were 120 for 5 in the 22nd over in pursuit of 301. Bracewell went 4,4,6,4,6 in a nerveless finish as New Zealand needed 20 off the last over, bowled by Craig Young.
The 20 runs scored by New Zealand are the most target runs successfully pursued in the 50th over of a men’s ODI; the previous best was 18 runs scored by England against Australia in 1987.
How did it even get to the final over? In the absence of a number of frontline players, including regular captain Kane Williamson, Devon Conway, and Daryl Mitchell, New Zealand’s batting line-up seemed poor, but they discovered a new hero in Bracewell.
Bracewell had gained to fame in New Zealand, like Mitchell, by tearing up the Super Smash with his big-hitting. Bracewell lead the run-scoring charts in the most recent Super Smash, with 478 runs scored in 10 innings at an average of more than 80 and a strike rate of almost 150. Despite a rapidly increasing asking rate, he established in the first ODI against Ireland that he could smash them long and big at a greater level.
He surged to a hundred off 74 balls after hitting fifty off 51 balls. It was anyone’s game at that moment, with New Zealand requiring 24 off the last 12 balls. Then, in the penultimate over, Mark Adair castled Lockie Ferguson for four runs. Young had 21 to defend off the last over, but he missed his distances again and crumbled under pressure.
Bracewell’s insanity was not without reason. Bracewell leaped over off and collected Young for fours off the opening two balls, with both fine leg and square leg up and Young preparing to bowl wide yorkers. He also slid across off for the following two deliveries, hitting a four and a six over midwicket.
Young and Andy Balbirnie were forced to return square leg amid repeated field changes, but Bracewell still walloped the fourth delivery for four to the right of Simi Singh at deep square leg. Bracewell then casually sent the final ball into the hospitality tents beyond the wide long-on boundary, capping off an incredible robbery.
It concluded a good personal comeback for Bracewell, who had taken some tap with his offspin in the Tests in England and also against Ireland on Sunday. Tector’s knock and Campher’s three-wicket haul were overshadowed by Bracewell’s blitz.
With his superb strokeplay, Tector gave a look into Ireland’s future just weeks after previous captain William Porterfield retired and Kevin O’Brien was promoted to Italy’s support staff. He turned his fourth straight half-century in ODI cricket – and eighth in his past 11 ODI innings – into a first-innings century to help Ireland reach 300 for 9.
Tector began the repair work when Ireland was 26 for 2 and did not stop until the 44th over. He wisely avoided sharp opening spells from Ferguson and Matt Henry, settled in over the middle overs, and then launched an end-overs onslaught.
Tector’s career-high ODI score came just two weeks after he set a T20I record with 64 not out off 33 balls against an India assault that included Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Yuzvendra Chahal, and tearaway Umran Malik. Tector had played a variety of appealing strokes through and over the covers during that endeavour, which had also taken place at the same location. On Sunday, Ferguson and company did not provide him with as many opportunities to drive through the area, but Tector demonstrated his strength on the leg side as well, scoring 46 of his 113 runs on this side of the wicket. The leg-side smash featured everything from swivel-pulls to the classic swipe.
Tector reached the century in style, smacking seamer Blair Tickner for four consecutive fours in the 42nd over. Tector’s joy was palpable – he had buried his grandma the previous weekend – and he appeared primed for more when he lined up Tickner for two more boundaries in his next over.
Campher was as important for Ireland, following up his 47-ball 43 with figures of 3 for 49. Campher got the key scalps of Guptill, Tom Latham, and Henry Nicholls in the chase after taking an aggressive approach with the bat against New Zealand’s spinners. Oh, he wasn’t through yet. He dismissed Ish Sodhi for 25, ending a 61-run seventh-wicket partnership with Bracewell and rousing Ireland even more.
on the other hand, changed the script with cameos from Sodhi and Glenn Phillips, who was playing in his debut ODI, to make it New Zealand’s day at the cricket.
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