If there was any doubt that Henry Nicholls would be heading to the Cricket World Cup, he removed it with one mighty innings.
Nicholls slaughtered the Sri Lankan bowling today, smoking 124 from 80 balls as part of the Black Caps' 115-run victory.
It was a handy reminder of the 27-year-old's short-form talents. Nicholls had been in superb form in test match cricket for the Black Caps, but had yet to completely stamp his mark in one-day internationals.
Part of that was due to limited opportunities, especially of late. His chance to bat at number three against Pakistan was extinguished by the rain, then against Sri Lanka he was first asked to come in and bash the ball in the 45th over, then made 32 from 38 balls in the Black Caps' second victory.
That's often the life of a middle order batsman, having to bat unselfishly and aggressively, and while Nicholls' knocks were still handy in the circumstances, he must have been watching with envy as everyone in the top order cashed in with big scores.
Coming into today, there was still uncertainty in some circles about Nicholls' viability as a 50-over option. During one six-game stretch in 2018, he had five egregiously early exits — being dismissed first ball, third ball, second ball, third ball, and third ball in an alarming run. However, three half centuries in 2018 were enough to keep his place, and now, he's surely locked in a World Cup spot after a blistering innings.
Walking to the crease in the 27th over at Saxton Oval, Nicholls had the time to show what he could do — and he delivered. The left-hander was particularly profitable down the ground and through the legside, carving 73 of his runs through those areas, pulling well and running superbly between the wickets to turn singles into twos.
He brought up his maiden ODI century off 71 balls with a vicious flick for six over square leg, and accelerated in the final overs as he batted Sri Lanka out of the contest, with the Black Caps reaching 364-4.
Nicholls was pleased to have contributed to another big total, and another victory.
"Sometimes in the white ball stuff for me it can be a quick 30 or a quick 20 so when you're batting at five or six you have to be pretty adaptable," Nicholls said.
"It's a credit to the way Ross and Kane set it up, and then we were able to continue that through the middle.
"The wicket early on was a little bit tacky but we knew it was getting better and better, so it was important that I was able to build that partnership with Ross, and nice to add that bit of cream on top."