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Michael Bracewell signals positive intent as New Zealand target final-day win

Allrounder expects key role with the ball after hard-hitting cameo

Osman Samiuddin
Osman Samiuddin
Michael Bracewell played an attractive cameo down the order  •  PA Photos/Getty Images

Michael Bracewell played an attractive cameo down the order  •  PA Photos/Getty Images

A clatter of New Zealand wickets through the second half of the day may have left England looking the likely victors at Trent Bridge, but Michael Bracewell believes the tourists are well-placed to level the series.
At the time, as New Zealand fell from 104 for 1 to 131 for 4 and then to 213 for 7, amidst a rash of run-outs and aggressive shots, it looked as if they were losing their grip on this game - and the series. Not so, for the innings was the result of their desire to push for a result: the Baz-effect, of two teams trying to out-positive each other.
Bracewell himself, however, was the first real sign that New Zealand were pushing - he smoked four boundaries and a six in a 17-ball 25. Until then, their batting had been a cagier mix of preservation and intent, interrupted by a run-out and a series of dismissals of strokes that had not been executed as well as they might have been.
Bracewell outright dismissed the idea that a draw had ever been in their thoughts. "We try to play positively as a side and ultimately try to win games of Test cricket," he said. "The plan was to get out there and be super positive. I managed to get a couple out of the middle but unfortunately I couldn't push on to a bigger score.
"The draw sort of comes out of it at the end if the win is not possible, rather than the other way round. We're willing to win a Test series against England. You want to secure as many WTC points as possible. We ultimately want to win games of cricket and if that comes tomorrow where we have to bowl a little bit more negatively towards the end of the day, we'll play that way. But yeah, we're always aiming to win games of cricket."
Bracewell will be key to New Zealand's attempts to push for that win. They lead by 238 at stumps with three wickets in hand. Kyle Jamieson, who went off on the third day with pain in his back, will bat tomorrow, but is unlikely to be available to bowl as he awaits the results of a scan. That makes any defence tougher still, but Bracewell's confidence adds another layer to the attack.
He's already had an impressive debut Test, a first-innings 49 followed by 3 for 62 when England batted. There was some drift, some turn and plenty of bounce, all of which may play a part again.
"The wicket is deteriorating nicely for us," he said. "It seems to be getting a little bit more turn and bounce there. Leachy showed that today so, yeah, I'm excited to get out there and bowl on it. The England team might come up with a few different plans to try and play me in this fourth innings. It'll be an exciting day to really test my skills against some of the best players in the world."
Although runs have come fast and with some ease, England want to keep the target as low as possible. There's confidence after the chase, in trickier conditions, at Lord's. There's also knowledge that there's runs still to be had on the surface.
"I think as little as possible," Ben Foakes said of a potential target. "Realistically how fast it's been scoring, under 300 you'd say would be quite doable if you bat really well. Some of the guys we've got in the dressing room, guys like Stokesy, it could be anything really. You have no idea really if he gets in.
"So much has happened this afternoon that now all three results are in play. It should be one hell of a day."

Osman Samiuddin is a senior editor at ESPNcricinfo