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In just his second ODI, New Zealand fast bowler Matt Henry may have wanted more than just a third of a game to take place, but the 22-year old made the most of the only opportunity he had to take on South Africa in this series. Henry did not play the first two matches, in which New Zealand were beaten in Mount Maunganui, but was brought in for the dead rubber in Hamilton in place of Trent Boult.
"It was good to get back out there and play some cricket against a team that's playing very well," Henry said after the game.
At first, things did not go well for Henry. His first two balls were on the receiving end of a flick behind square and a drive through midwicket from Quinton de Kock, South Africa's rising star. "That's a great way to test yourself and your skills, to see where you are at," Henry said. "We had some plans going in and making sure we stuck by them was important today."
After three overs, Henry had some reward for tightening his line around off-stump and holding back his length a touch. Extra bounce teased Hashim Amla, who lobbed his shot off the toe of the bat to short midwicket. In his next over, Henry had Rilee Rossouw caught and bowled. Rossouw offered a leading edge that Henry picked up in his follow-through to become New Zealand's most successful bowler on the day, albeit in a washout.
For Henry, the experience was about finding his feet at the elite level and perhaps pushing for a place in New Zealand's future plans. "It was great to be involved in the environment and getting to know everyone well; getting into that team culture," he said.
He understands New Zealand are not the finished article, especially this early in their season, but hopes the trip to the UAE to play Pakistan next month will prepare them for hosting Sri Lanka at home and eventually, the World Cup. "We had some good patches and some areas we need to work on. As a whole, we showed some signs that we are getting it right most of the time," he said. "We've shown signs of what we are capable of and we've shown signs that we are very good side as well. Moving forward, we've got areas where we want to work on and keep developing. It's early season for us and there is a lot for us to take into the UAE."
Conditions in the UAE will be vastly different to what they were on fresh New Zealand surfaces for this series and that added challenge is what Henry is looking to next. "Playing them in those conditions will be exciting," he said. With the likes of Tim Southee, Boult, Mitchell McClenaghan, Jimmy Neesham and Corey Anderson in the mix, Henry knows he will need more than a rain-hit 30-over innings to show what he is capable of. "We've got a lot of talented bowlers and a lot of depth which is good signs for New Zealand cricket," he said.