Our victory in the second ODI against Sri Lanka was a special moment for this group. Having endured a long tour of the sub-continent, to get a victory like that with our backs up against the wall will stay with everyone involved for a long time.
The game looked like it had got just beyond us when we needed 20 from the last over – 99 times out of 100 you expect the bowling team to win in that scenario - but the guys kept fighting all the way. Those last four strikes from Nathan McCullum to win the match (6, 4, 6, 6) have’t been seen too many times.
Nathan’s always been a clean striker of the ball and he really stood up last night in those dying stages, but it was the overall team performance which was really pleasing. The play from some of our younger players definitely springs to mind, as does Luke Ronchi’s momentum changing innings during the middle stages. Andrew Ellis’s last over to keep two world-class batsmen in Kumar Sangakkara and Tilikaratne Dilshan to eight runs shouldn’t be under-estimated either.
A lot has been made of the players we’ve been missing on this tour, but I think we’ve seen just how exciting some of the young talent coming through is. Tom Latham is one such example. He’s been on a few tours with us now, not played a heck of a lot, but worked hard and been a fantastic squad member. The maturity and composure he showed during that second ODI is hard to find and to have it at his age says a lot about him. To win the Man of the Match award was just reward for him.
There’s been other who have impressed as well, with the likes of Corey Anderson, Jimmy Neesham and Colin Munro all exhibiting huge growth and development in their games on this tour. They now have the opportunity to continue pushing for selection and try to cement their spot in the squad. The competition that creates is an incredibly exciting prospect and potentially the odd selection headache moving forward.
Understandably there was plenty of passion immediately after the victory on Tuesday, but we know as a group it’s just a start – one victory doesn’t make us a great side. We’ve got a chance to wrap up the ODI series on Saturday before playing two Twenty20s to finish off the tour. We expect a fired-up Sri Lanka, but we’ll continue to play with belief and show that never-say-die-attitude we want to be known for.
Hope you enjoyed reading and look forward to seeing you in New Zealand for the home series against West Indies soon.