New Zealand’s left-hand batter Michael Bracewell, playing in only his fourth One-day International, smashed 24 from the final over to help the tourists secure a narrow one-wicket win in a high-scoring opening match of the three-game series against Ireland here.
Riding on a maiden ODI century from Ireland’s prolific run-getter Harry Tector, who brought it up in stunning style with four consecutive boundaries, helped the hosts to 300/9 in 50 overs.
It was going to take something special for New Zealand to chase down the mountain of runs and all-rounder Bracewell delivered with an unbeaten 127 from just 82 balls. The 31-year-old Bracewell came to the crease with the visitors in big trouble at 120/5. He batted with caution when required and then produced the pyrotechnics in the final over to ensure New Zealand drew first blood in the three-match ODI series.
It all came down to the final over, with New Zealand requiring 20 runs to win and Bracewell facing experienced Ireland pacer Craig Young. And Bracewell only needed five of the six deliveries to clinch the victory for his side as he went 4, 4, 6, 4, 6 to seal the dramatic triumph.
The 20 runs chased in the final over was a record for most target runs successfully chased in the 50th over of a men’s ODI, according to ICC.
It was so close, yet so far for Ireland who looked in firm control during various stages of the match thanks to some superb play from young batter Tector and all-rounder Curtis Campher.
While Campher contributed 43 with the bat and 3/49 with the ball, it was Tector who hogged the limelight with his maiden ODI century for Ireland in just his 21st match.
Tector looked at home against the world-class Black Caps attack as he plundered 113 from 117 deliveries, smashing three massive sixes during his knock to keep the Dublin crowd on the edge of their seats.
While the knock proved in vain in the end, it showed the 22-year-old has a big future in the game if he can continue his current rich vein of form that has now seem him pass 50 on four consecutive ODI innings.
Brief scores: Ireland 300/9 in 50 overs (Harry Tector 113, Curtis Campher 43) lost to New Zealand 305/9 in 49.5 overs (Martin Guptill 51, Michael Bracewell 127 not out; Curtis Campher 3/49) by one wicket.