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Shirin Sadikot in Bengaluru 07 April 2012 - 10:59pm IST

My aim is to learn: Bracewell

After a dream IPL debut, Delhi Daredevils pacer wants to grow as a cricketer

Life has changed dramatically for young Doug Bracewell over the course of the last six months. An international debut for the Black Caps was followed by the nine for 60 in Hobart, which fetched New Zealand a historic Test win in Australia. He now finds himself a part of the richest cricket league in the world – the IPL.

On his debut for the Delhi Daredevils, against the Royal Challengers Bangalore, the strapping Kiwi pace bowler picked up three wickets and produced the best catch of IPL 2012 so far. The script, however, ended on an imperfect note, as his last-ditch effort of 12 runs from nine balls proved inadequate to win DD the game.

Surrounded by a sea of screaming reds, Bracewell walked silently towards the visitors’ dressing room at the Chinnaswami Stadium in Bengaluru, after the match. On his way he stopped for a quick chat with iplt20.com, his bat still in his hands and gloves still on.

He was disappointed. But a mention of the dream run he’s experiencing since November 2011 brought a big smile to his face. He wiped it off quickly, along with the drops of sweat streaming down his face and said, “I have enjoyed every bit of it and this is what I want to do. I just want to improve my game all the time.”

This is Bracewell’s first visit to India and the craze surrounding the game here has left him overwhelmed. “I really enjoyed my first game. It was lovely atmosphere; I’d never played in front of such a loud crowd before,” he said with amusement visible on his face.

Bracewell is a tough cookie. As a kid, he trained in the arduous camps at the Bracewell Academy at Te Puna. The owner of the academy is none other than Bracewell’s father, Brendon, who turned to cricket coaching after playing six Tests for New Zealand. Yes, cricket runs in Doug’s blood. His three uncles, John, Mark and his namesake Doug, played first-class cricket. His cousin, Michael, is doing the same.

Doug’s athletic build and tall frame made him a natural at pace bowling. At the Daredevils, he hopes to pick the nous of fast bowling from the likes of Morne Morkel and exchange knowledge with young Indian fast bowlers like Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron.

“Delhi has quality bowlers like Morne and Charl Langeveldt. I watch them during the practice sessions and try to grasp as much as I can. Then there are the likes of Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron, which forms a formidable pace attack,” he said.

Besides having perhaps, the strongest pace battery, what has stood out in DD’s performance in their two games so far is their fielding. Unlike the previous seasons, where slowness in the field hampered the team’s morale, this time, the Daredevils look like a unit determined to give it their all in the field. Bracewell concedes that special attention was paid to this aspect of the game.

“We’ve got a couple of guys who work in that area. The players have been working really hard, putting extra effort in training, taking extra catches. It’s really crucial to have a good fielding unit in this format,” he said.

It was this extra work in the practice sessions combined with natural skill and athleticism that resulted in a stupendous catch. Andrew McDonald, who was going great guns, hoicked one in the air, confident of clearing the mid-wicket. But Bracewell ran all the way from mid-on to pluck a stunner out of thin air.

He, however, plays it down. “I didn’t know if I could get there but I just kept on running and I tried to get it with two hands but just chucked out my right hand and it stuck. It was good.”

With his no-nonsense attitude and hunger to learn, this Kiwi fast bowler could very well play a crucial role in turning the Delhi Daredevils’ fortunes around this season.

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