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It was 'pretty exciting' as well as 'nerve-wracking', says Hazlewood on captaincy debut

Sydney, Nov 20 (IANS) Australia pace bowler Josh Hazlewood’s experience of leading the side for the first time has been “pretty exciting” as well as “nerve-wracking” as he guided the team to an ODI series victory against England at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Sunday.

The 31-year-old quick made his captaincy debut with regular ODI skipper Pat Cummins not in the XI and guided Australia to a 72-run victory against the recently-crowned T20 World champions England to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series.

After setting a competitive 280/8 in the allotted 50 overs, Australia dismissed England for just 208 in 38.5 overs to ensure a big win against Jos Buttler’s side.

With precious little captaincy experience, Hazlewood admitted he was nervous before the seond ODI. Hazlewood has become Australia’s 28th men’s ODI captain after he was handed the reins with “Cummins’ workload being managed ahead of effectively five back-to-back Tests beginning on November 30”, according to cricket.com.au.

“While the fast bowler was elevated to the Test vice-captaincy in 2018 and has been around the limited-overs ‘leadership group’ for some time, prior to Saturday’s match at the SCG, Hazlewood had never led a side in his 14-year professional career,” according to the report.

“It was pretty exciting and a little bit nerve-wracking,” Hazlewood said after the match. “I certainly enjoyed it and it was a bit of a challenge there while that (James Vince and Sam Billings) partnership was going. And then we got a couple of wickets and that set the game up.”

The veteran pacer took the decisive decision of bringing himself back into the attack to break the 122-run stand between Vince and Billings that had briefly put England in the driver’s seat. The dismissal of Vince proved to be the turning point of the match. Hazlewood trapped Vince lbw for 60, finishing with 2/33 from seven overs despite conceding 0/21 from his first two overs, which he put down to the pressure of leading the side.

“I was thinking about everyone else’s bowling rather than my own at the start,” Hazlewood said. “But (eventually) got into a groove there. And then everything seemed to flow pretty well. Obviously we’ve got Kez (Alex Carey) there, quite an experienced keeper to do all the angles with the field and different things. And the two spinners (Ashton Agar and Adam Zampa) have played a lot of cricket. They know their fields so I stayed out of their way as best I could.

“There weren’t any times I had to step in at all or argue, so it was smooth sailing,” he added.

–IANS

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