New Zealand rewarded for thinking outside the box to maintain winning season

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A different balance to the side and a new opening combination came together in Wellington

Five series played for New Zealand this season, five series won. Australia pushed them close but their performance in the decider in Wellington was decisive.

That in itself is not insignificant in a year that will include the pressures of a World Cup. The conditions presented by the unusual situation of the match being the fifth in three games on the same pitch was also not without value as it required the team, and captain Kane Williamson, to get creative after their heavy defeat on Friday.

The masterplan revolved around two players who had not previously bowled for New Zealand: Mark Chapman, whose international scalps had come for Hong Kong before Sunday when he removed Glenn Maxwell, and Glenn Phillips who bowled for the first at the top level.

Phillips’ offspin remains more of the work-in-progress but it appears likely to feature in New Zealand’s planning for the T20 World Cup. Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi, the latter named Player of the Series against Australia, are locked in the side but with Williamson’s reluctance to bowl himself other part-time solutions will be valuable.

The combined return for Chapman and Phillips was 4-0-30-1, a much lower economy rate that the struggling Kyle Jamieson had managed before he was left out the rebalanced side for the last match.

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