Top return for Jimmy Neesham

Neesham stars in warm-up win

BLACKCAPS 201-4 (Latham 60, Neesham 54, Williamson 44, Worker 26) beat North West Cricket Club 128-5 (Lubbe 40; Neesham 2-22) by 73 runs at Potchefstroom

Allrounder Jimmy Neesham has featured in a winning start to the BLACKCAPS' tour of Africa with a convincing victory against the North West Cricket Club today at Potchefstroom in South Africa.

The 24-year-old from the SBS Bank Otago Volts, who had not played for the BLACKCAPS since the tour of the United Arab Emirates last year against Pakistan, was impressive in the warm-up match on his comeback from a stress fracture in his back.

Neesham, who has played 15 One-Day Internationals, starred with the bat, hitting 54* from only 29 balls and then picking up two wickets with the ball in a complete performance.

The visitors posted an impressive total of 201-4 thanks to other significant efforts from Tom Latham (60* from 39 balls), Kane Williamson (44 from 35 balls) and debutant George Worker (26* from 11 balls).

The BLACKCAPS' total could have been 201-1, with three batsmen — Latham, Neesham and Worker, all retired to rotate the time in the middle.

The hosts in reply showed character with Wihal Lubbe (40 from 34 balls) leading the way, but they couldn’t keep up with the required run rate of 10.1 per over and in the end finished 73 runs short on 128-5.   

At the start of the day, Latham and Williamson set up a big score with an attacking opening stand of 85.

Latham, who is likely to join Martin Guptill in the opening pair for the upcoming ODI series, delivered at the top with six fours and a six.

Skipper Williamson at the other end was at his effortless best as he hit eight fours around the full wagon wheel of the 'Potch' ground.

His innings came to an end when he was spectacularly caught by Lubbe at cover from the bowling of Drain Wyers in the eleventh over.

When the BLACKCAPS reached 123 in the fourteenth over, Latham was retired and Neesham made his way out to the middle for New Zealand for the first time in almost eight months.

Neesham was straight into his work and produced a powerful innings of shot-making that included five fours and two sixes to continue the momentum.

He combined with Worker, who made his first start for the BLACKCAPS for a 61 run partnership, the allrounder from the Devon Hotel Central Stags looking right at home in the dry conditions.

Worker made a telling cameo of 26 before he was retired to give Adam Milne (6*) some time at the crease.

Neesham also made way for Grant Elliott (4*) after he delivered exactly what coach Mike Hesson would have wanted to see from him.

With two wickets for 22 runs from 3 overs, Neesham finished with the best bowling figures for the BLACKCAPS, while Worker (1-13), Ben Wheeler (1-14) and leg-spinner Ish Sodhi (1-20) were also among the wickets.

The bowling effort was also a success for Milne (4 overs, 0-37), who returned for the BLACKCAPS for the first time since being ruled out of the ICC Cricket World Cup with a heel injury. 

The BLACKCAPS will play a 35-over match against North West Cricket Club tomorrow at Potchefstroom in their final warm-up game ahead of the first ODI against Zimbabwe in Harare on August 2.       

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