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Neesham digging a niche with Black Caps

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 22/02/2017
James Neesham in Black Caps colours against the Proteas in South Africa last August. © Lee Warren/Gallo Images/Getty Images James Neesham in Black Caps colours against the Proteas in South Africa last August.

Jimmy Neesham reckons he's nailing down his best form and ideal spot in the New Zealand one-day international cricket batting order.

Now he must get his bowling to follow suit.

The Otago allrounder entrenched himself further in the first-choice Black Caps side heading into this year's Champions Trophy with a vital, unbeaten knock in the six-run win over South Africa in the second ODI in Christchurch.

His 71 off 57 balls provided the aggression in a 123-run unbroken stand for the fifth wicket with centurion Ross Taylor.

Neesham, 26, has scored 315 runs at an average of 45.0 in his nine ODI innings, thriving in a variety of scenarios.

He scored 34 and 74 in two innings at No.3 when New Zealand were well beaten in Australia earlier in the summer.

A gradual shuffle down the order has followed, including Wednesday's knock at No.6.

"I'm starting to get more comfortable. I've bounced around the order - I was 8, 7 and a couple of games opening," Neesham said.

"It's nice to find my niche in the middle order there and hopefully No.6 can be my position for a number of years now.

"It certainly wasn't vintage ball striking yesterday but it was pleasing to knock it around and support Ross."

Neesham acknowledges his bowling lacks the same consistency.

The designated fifth bowler against the Proteas, he wasn't used in the opening loss in Hamilton and bowled three wayward overs early on at Hagley Oval, conceding 20 runs.

Fellow-allrounder Colin de Grandhomme and part-time spinner Kane Williamson stepped up to see out the rest of Neesham's allocation.

Regarded as a bowling allrounder early in his career, Neesham still sends the ball down at a decent clip but he admits his control could be improved.

"It's a work in progress at all times, the bowling," he said.

"There were some promising signs yesterday. It's something I work on every day at training and there have been some strides made."

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