DUBLIN - Michael Bracewell was the hero once again for the second game running for New Zealand as they picked up another nervy win over Ireland to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match ODI series.

Chasing 217, New Zealand were coasting at one stage before Ireland managed to pull things back. However, Bracewell once again stood tall at a vital juncture as his unbeaten 42 saw the visitors home with three wickets left.

Mark Adair gave Ireland a dream start in the run chase as they hoped to put the disappointment of losing out the first ODI in heartbreaking fashion behind them. Adair castled Martin Guptill first ball with a brilliant delivery in the blockhole and then followed it up with a similar ball to castle Will Young as well. While he missed out on the hat-trick, those two wickets in the very first over gave Ireland a massive lift in their attempt to defend a moderate total.

The pressure was swiftly shifted back to the opposition though as Tom Latham fetched a couple of boundaries in the second over before Finn Allen decided to counter-attack. Even though only 20 runs came off the first seven overs, New Zealand picked up pace as Allen first hit a four and a six off Craig Young before taking on Adair for three fours and a six off four successive deliveries. That assault put the pressure firmly back on the bowling side as Allen went on the attack to bring up his half-century.

Ireland, who looked dead and buried, suddenly found a way to stay alive in the contest by striking regularly in the middle overs. A few overs after Allen’s dismissal, Henry Nicholls walked back following a run out. And with Glenn Phillips getting castled for 16, Ireland sensed an opportunity again. Half-centurion Tom Latham also departed for 55 and that’s when New Zealand had to rely on Bracewell again.

The allrounder took just two deliveries to fetch his first boundary and was busy at the crease. Despite Latham’s dismissal, he drove Andy McBrine over mid off for a boundary and smashed Simi Singh for a six to frustrate the Irish camp again. Mitchell Santner’s dismissal could have ideally helped the home side to add some more pressure but a no-ball from Simi was enough for Bracewell to capitalise on for his second six. The pressure was then firmly released courtesy of a wide delivery that also managed to reach the boundary before Bracwell finished proceedings with his third six of the evening.

Earlier in the day, Ireland struggled with the bat, thus managing to score 216 runs. The delayed start due to rain prompted New Zealand to bowl first and Matt Henry didn’t disappoint his skipper. After castling Paul Stirling in the opening over, Henry also shattered the stumps of Andrew Balbirnie to leave Ireland reeling at 5/2.

Harry Tector was dismissed for a 25-ball 4 as the wickets kept tumbling at regular intervals and Ireland were reduced to 85/5 and were in danger of getting shot out for a paltry total. However, George Dockrell steadied Ireland’s ship, hammering 10 fours and a couple of sixes to make 74 off just 61 balls.

Adair stunned the visitors by fetching three fours and two sixes to race to 27 off just 15 balls before a run out put an end to the entertainment.

Scores in brief

IRELAND 216 in 48 overs (Dockrell 74, McBrine 28; Bracewell 2/26) lost to New Zealand 219/7 in 38.1 overs (Allen 60, Latham 55; Adair 2/29) by 3 wickets.