Cricket: Watling wanting to continue form

By Kris Shannon

BJ Watling. Photo / AP
BJ Watling. Photo / AP

BJ Watling has perhaps been the only Black Cap to enhance his reputation in Sri Lanka, something he hopes to continue in tonight's final one-dayer.

The New Zealand team have so far experienced a terrible time on the tour, with the amount of rain being matched only by poor performances with the bat.

None of the four matches has featured its full allotment of overs, with a combination of the Duckworth-Lewis system and tumbling tourist wickets handing the hosts a 3-0 lead before tonight's final hit out in the coloured clothing.

Watling has been one batsmen to buck that trend and, although he will be heading home before the two-test series, the 27-year-old was focusing on putting in one final performance before he departs.

"I'm happy with the form I'm in,'' he said. "But it would definitely be nice to get one in the win column. We're just looking to get a win out there and hopefully gain some confidence.''

The Northern Districts batsman must have already increased his confidence on the tour.

Having played only sparingly throughout a three-year international career, Watling has staked a real claim for a regular place at the top of the Black Caps' order.

He has notched two of the team's three half-centuries in the one-day series while scoring 166 runs (35 per cent of New Zealand's total runs) at an average of 83 during his three innings.

His efforts have gone in vain, however, with his teammates struggling to give their bowlers a target on any substance to defend.

"We haven't been far away in a couple of games,'' Watling said. "In the last one, we got outclassed by Sri Lanka. We weren't quite good enough with the bat but I thought the bowlers bowled really well without a lot of reward. I think we're playing some alright cricket but we've got a lot to improve on.''

That improvement is sought personally as well as for the collective. Keen to add to his 15 ODIs for his country, Watling was aware of what he needed to work on to make him an indispensable member of the side.

"I've got some things to improve on as well and I need to be a bit smarter at the top there and get a bit of a strikerate going early for myself. Personally, that's something that I need to address. I'm looking forward to the next game and hopefully doing so.''

And following the game, while the majority of his teammates prepare to don the whites, Watling will return to New Zealand where he will attempt to keep his touch with the bat and tend to the other side of his game.

"I'll be heading to Gisborne to play against CD in a four-dayer. I'm looking forward to putting the gloves on there and hopefully getting some overs under my belt wicketkeeping. Batting in the middle order should be fun and I'll look to keep building on some form.''

- APNZ

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