New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson lauded off-spin all-rounder Michael Bracewell and opening batter Finn Allen for playing “really valuable" roles within the T20I side ahead of Men’s T20 World Cup starting in Australia.
Despite New Zealand losing the final of T20I tri-series to Pakistan by three wickets at the Hagley Oval on Friday, Bracewell and Allen have emerged as bright spots for the hosts.
Bracewell picked eight wickets in five matches at a miserly economy rate of 4.94 and took the Player of the Series award, adding more laurels to his rise as a utility player for New Zealand.
Allen, on the other hand, justified the call taken by the hosts to open the batting with him instead of Martin Guptill by giving explosive starts, seen from his strike-rate of 145 and also included 62 against Pakistan in the league stage.
“Both performed beautifully well and (they) played really valuable roles within the side. (They played) complementary roles too - Finn at the top is super aggressive and hits the ball really, really hard and looks to take it on, which has been great. And it complements Dev (Devon Conway) really well."
“Michael - Man of the Series - incredible effort, especially to not win the series as a team. He showed his contributions throughout these five-six games. He was really disciplined with his lengths and made life quite difficult on these sorts of pitches as well," said Williamson in the post-match press conference.
In the tri-series, New Zealand missed Daryl Mitchell due to fractured hand while Mitchell Santner missed initial stage due to paternity leave apart from careful management of tearaway quicks Adam Milne and Lockie Ferguson.
Williamson felt it was vital for his team to play with certain adjustments at some stages of the tri-series as they missed above-mentioned players and hopes that learnings from it help them in the T20 World Cup.
“It’s not really how we were looking at this (tri-series). We were looking at this tournament in isolation a little bit. Having said that clearly, there’s a big tournament at the end of it, but trying to focus on what’s in front of us and play the cricket that’s in front of us. You can sometimes get carried away looking ahead and all these sorts of things; so, I thought that was good. There was some improvement throughout the series and some lessons."
“I think it’s valuable as a team to get this sort of exposure and competition quickly before a tournament like that. Tournament sport - it’s different and not playing similar teams day in and day out. It’s thinking on our toes and adjusting as a side quickly with different venues and different oppositions."
Williamson signed off by saying he wasn’t much concerned over New Zealand’s catching despite dropping eight catches in the tri-series. “That (dropped chances) was definitely touched on (in team discussions). Not just the catches; it can happen, although it was a little bit out of character. As a side, it’s something that we pride ourselves on, but that energy and intensity how we operate we definitely saw an improvement today, which is important and hopefully we can continue that standard going ahead."
New Zealand will now travel to Brisbane to play warm-up matches against South Africa and India before opening their T20 World Cup Super 12 campaign against defending champions and hosts Australia in a re-match of 2021 final at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) on October 22.