WELLINGTON: Australia are not short of fast bowlers jostling for room in the Twenty20 World Cup squad, but selectors' headaches intensified on Thursday after Riley Meredith's stirring debut against New Zealand.
Displaying blistering raw pace, Meredith captured 2-24 in Australia's 64-run win at a closed Wellington Regional Stadium. That included the prized scalp of New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson, who was trapped lbw for nine in the 24-year-old Tasmanian's second over.
A third wicket went begging when Marcus Stoinis dropped Devon Conway in the deep, but Meredith showed more than enough to earn another cap as Aaron Finch-captained Australia look to level the five-match series at 2-2 on Friday.
"A bit of a relief," Meredith said of his debut.
"I was really nervous beforehand. Most of the day I was probably playing it out in my mind, (and) thought about that first ball about a thousand times, so just nice to get it on the pitch in a decent area and go from there."
Meredith may need a few more eye-catching performances to book a ticket to the World Cup in India later this year, with about half a dozen quicks hoping to be among the reserves behind established stars Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc.
But his strong campaign in Australia's Big Bash League, where he took 12 wickets at an economy rate of 7.48 for the Hobart Hurricanes, has already made him a bowler in demand.
He became the Indian Premier League's most expensive uncapped overseas player signed at an auction when the Punjab Kings paid 80 million rupees (US$1.10 million) last month to secure him for the April-May tournament.
"When you have a weapon like that in your team, the way Finchy (captain Finch) used him I thought was brilliant tonight," Australia batsman Glenn Maxwell said.
"Riley's biggest strength is he's able to swing the ball at high speeds. So once he gets that new ball in his hands, he's able to shape it away - it's pretty scary."
(US$1 = 72.9660 Indian rupees)
(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)