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Surprise New Zealand selection Blundell on brink of ODI debut in World Cup

Surprise New Zealand selection Blundell on brink of ODI debut in World Cup
By Reuters
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LONDON (Reuters) - Tom Blundell was plucked from obscurity to be the surprise pick in New Zealand's squad for the Cricket World Cup but the wicketkeeper could be in line for his one-day international debut when they face Sri Lanka in Cardiff on Saturday.

The 28-year-old did his chances no harm with 106 against West Indies in their final warmup game in Bristol and follows on from 77 against Australia earlier this month in Brisbane.

Blundell, however, would only make the starting side if regular wicketkeeper Tom Latham does not recover from a broken finger.

"I'm happy where my game is at currently, both keeping and batting-wise," Blundell told reporters New Zealand's 91-run loss to a rampaging West Indies team who smashed 18 sixes in their 421 runs at Bristol.

"Tommy (Latham) is coming along pretty nicely, he's keeping and batting so if I don't get a chance, so be it.

"It's a World Cup, so it'll be a pretty happy day if I do get a chance to debut."

Blundell had barely played any domestic one-day cricket in New Zealand before his surprise selection and his potential first ODI appearance could mirror how he made his test debut against West Indies in late 2017.

The Wellingtonian was brought into the side for the injured BJ Watling and proceeded to score an unbeaten century on debut on his home ground at the Basin Reserve.

Blundell famously walked home from the ground still wearing his whites and carrying his cricket bag after the innings and 67 run-victory.

He played the second test in Hamilton and then appeared in two Twenty20 internationals in early 2018 but had not been required by the national side again until his recall.

New Zealand captain Kane Williamson, however, said his performances had proved that he could easily slot into Latham's position in the middle order.

"He has spent some time in the middle and it was a brilliant knock," Williamson said. "A real positive for him, he was picked as the backup keeper but it is just how well Tom (Latham) recovers. It's a day by day thing.

"Tom (Blundell) has kept very nicely, so good problems (to have)."

Williamson added that despite having his bowlers smashed all over the County Ground by the West Indies, he was pleased with their two warmup matches as it gave the side a chance to work out some tactics and bowling and batting plans.

"Two really good hit outs for us," Williamson said.

"You can't ask for too much more in warmup games when you have guys executing different skills."

(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

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