Sri Lanka v New Zealand, 2nd T20, Pallekele November 22, 2013

Mills encouraged by individual performances

New Zealand captain Kyle Mills conceded his side was outplayed comprehensively in the second T20 in Pallekele, but was optimistic about their chances in the home summer and the World Twenty20, thanks to encouraging individual performances.

A severely-depleted New Zealand tied the ODI series, having secured an unlikely weather-affected win in Hambantota, and for Mills, that victory was enough to suggest a bright future for the side in the short term. Twenty-one-year-old Tom Latham was the protagonist of that chase, and Luke Ronchi and Anton Devcich have also proved useful.

New Zealand have two T20s scheduled before the World T20 in March, and they play West Indies and India at home over the next two months.

"Throughout the tour, we've had young men have some fine performances," Mills said. "There's no doubt about that. That's encouraging for New Zealand Cricket and our home summer. Where we let ourselves down a little bit was the consistency of the home performances. As soon as we become more consistent as individuals, we'll be a far better consistent team.

"Throughout the tour our spinners bowled really well. Nathan McCullum led the attack well and Anton Devcich stepped up in his first international tour. There definitely are positives - the young players stood up and it's really important that these guys have those consistent performances that we were after, when we get back to New Zealand."

Ronchi had had a poor limited-overs trip to England mid-year, where he debuted for New Zealand, though it was his second dig at international cricket. After an unsatisfying trip to Bangladesh as well, he finally made meaningful contributions with the bat, hitting a brisk 49 in the ODI win, and finishing the Twenty20 innings with a 34 not out.

"I'm delighted with the success Luke has had on this trip," Mills said. "He had a pretty tough tour in England for us, but we had a lot of faith in him as a cricketer, because he's a very skilful cricketer. It's just nice for us as players to see a fellow player have success and maybe he's found a spot there in the middle order."

Mills placed most blame on the batsmen, as New Zealand failed to finish their tour of the subcontinent brightly. They lost two wickets inside the first three overs, and could not establish a rhythm at the crease, eventually succumbing to a modest 142 for 7.

"Most T20 matches around the world, the runs come from the top four. We kept losing wickets throughout the whole innings, and we couldn't establish a decent partnership. We batted well towards the end of the innings, and we've done that well throughout the whole tour. When we keep losing wickets at the top, it's hard for us to build partnerships, and that's a key to winning matches. The one partnership of note was probably (between) Ronchi and (Nathan) McCullum towards the end."

New Zealand also reprieved Kusal Perera twice in the field, as he sped to a 31-ball fifty that effectively took the match away. He was dropped on 6 and on 39. Both were straightforward chances.

"The fielding was pretty poor tonight, from our high standard. We pride ourselves on our ability to read situations well in the field, but dropped catches - particularly early on, when you're trying to get wickets - doesn't help proceedings.

"With the ball at times, I thought we were not too bad. We pulled it back quite nicely. We were always chasing wickets, and when you're trying to get wickets, you tend to go for a few runs as well, but all three facets were pretty poor."

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here

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  • android_user on November 23, 2013, 10:06 GMT

    I was at the 1st odi and watched nz scratch around in he field before sl made 280 odd. milne was disgraceful and the spinners were the only saving grace. nzc needs to look long and hard at itself.. stop picking players who are underperformers at 1st class level. just because milne is quick doesnt make him a nz selection. I agree with other posts here.. get rid of hopeless hesson, get some strategic leadership into nzc for a change and stop celebrating mediocrity!

  • HairyKiore on November 22, 2013, 8:39 GMT

    Look at the ages of these players ..Young Players?? Whats Mills talking about???Whats NZ Cricket doing?? Developing an old age team for what ....This is ludicrous?? We have to bring through our young players ...Like India is doing ...I see no hope for NZ cricket unless there are big changes...HK

  • kiwicricketnut on November 22, 2013, 8:16 GMT

    Can't believe mills is talking about how good we were, we were crap, more nonsense bravado from a team under achieving, wish they would just shut up sometimes and only talk themselves up when they have actually achieved something. Future looking bright he says, well if average perfomances are what we have to look foward too then the future is about as bright as a black sheep stuck at the bottom of hole in the middle of the night, we don't actually have a bad team when the best xi is on the park but our depth is nothing to be boasting about, from what i saw most of it was average.

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