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Bracewell denies Ireland once more as New Zealand wins the series

Michael Bracewell was the hero for New Zealand for the second game in a row as they won another tense game against Ireland to take a 2-0 lead in the three-match ODI series. New Zealand was coasting on 217 at one point before Ireland managed to pull things back. Bracewell, on the other hand, stood tall once more at a critical juncture, as his unbeaten 42 saw the visitors home with three wickets remaining.

Ireland got off to a flying start in the run chase, hoping to put the disappointment of losing the first ODI in heartbreaking fashion behind them. Adair castled Martin Guptill with a brilliant delivery in the blockhole on the first ball, and then followed it up with a similar delivery to castle Will Young as well. While he fell short of a hat-trick, his two wickets in the first over gave Ireland a huge boost in their attempt to defend a modest total.

However, the pressure was quickly shifted back to the opposition as Tom Latham fetched two boundaries in the second over before Finn Allen decided to counter-attack. Despite scoring only 20 runs in the first seven overs, New Zealand picked up the pace as Allen hit fours and sixes off Craig Young before taking on Adair for three fours and a six off four consecutive deliveries. As Allen went on the attack to reach his half-century, the pressure was firmly put back on the bowling side.

Ireland, who appeared to be doomed, found a way to stay in the game by striking frequently in the middle overs. Following a run out a few overs after Allen’s dismissal, Henry Nicholls walked back. And with Glenn Phillips being castled for 16, Ireland saw another opportunity. When half-centurion Tom Latham left for 55, New Zealand had to rely on Bracewell once more.

The allrounder needed only two deliveries to get his first boundary and was very active at the crease. Despite being dismissed, Latham drove Andy McBrine over mid-off for a boundary and smashed Simi Singh for a six to further frustrate the Irish camp. Mitchell Santner’s dismissal could have aided the home side’s pressure, but a no-ball from Simi was enough for Bracewell to score his second six. The pressure was then released with a wide delivery that also reached the boundary before Bracewell finished with his third six of the evening.

Earlier in the day, Ireland struggled with the bat for the majority of their innings before breaking the 200-run barrier. Because of the delayed start due to rain, New Zealand was forced to bowl first, and Matt Henry did not disappoint his captain. After dismissing Paul Stirling in the first over, Henry shattered Andrew Balbirnie’s stumps to leave Ireland reeling at 5/2.

Last match’s centurion, Harry Tector, struggled to get started and was dismissed for a 25-ball 4 when he attempted to break the shackles. The wickets continued to fall at regular intervals as Ireland was reduced to 85/5 and on the verge of being shot out for a pitiful total. George Dockrell, on the other hand, fought hard to ensure that Ireland did not go down without a fight. He adopted a positive attitude and was constantly breaking down barriers. Dockrell scored 74 off 61 deliveries, hitting ten fours and two sixes.

His crucial knock was insufficient to propel Ireland past 200, and the home side had to rely on an entertaining cameo from Adair at the end. Batting with the last man, Adair stunned the visitors by hitting three fours and two sixes to race to 27 off 15 balls before being run out. A few more lusty blows at that point would have made the run chase far more exciting than it was.