WELLINGTON - Doug Bracewell was just as surprised as many pundits and fans on Saturday when he was named as the third seamer for New Zealand in the second Test against Sri Lanka and then celebrated his recall with three wickets late in the day. The 24-year-old Bracewell took two early wickets to help reduce Sri Lanka to 29 for three and then returned in the final over of the day to snare Prasanna Jayawardene as the visitors slumped to 78 for five in response to New Zealand's 221.

Bracewell had initially not been expecting to play, despite acknowledgement from management and team mates he 'was bowling the house down' in the nets, after captain Brendon McCullum had indicated on Friday that Neil Wagner would retain his place as the third seamer.

"Yeah it was a little bit (surprising)," Bracewell said as he had thought he may only make the team if Tim Southee failed a fitness test on his injured ankle. "We got here and Tim was fit so I thought they would keep the same team but he gave me the tap on the shoulder and told me I was playing so I was very happy."

Bracewell had not played a Test since October 2013 after off-field issues and injuries kept him out of the squad while Wagner kept him out of the team with gut-busting lengthy bowling spells on flat wickets. "I have been out of the mix for over a year so there was a little bit of pressure on myself," Bracewell said. "I was a little bit nervous but at the same time excited and looking forward to taking the opportunity. I was just told to do what I've been doing and that's what I do. I just stick to what I'm good at and keep it pretty simple."

That simple approach helped on Saturday when the ball dominated the bat on the green Basin Reserve pitch with 15 wickets falling, with New Zealand possibly having their noses in front after they were asked to bat first. "I think it's the sort of wicket if you bowl badly you can get punished but if you stay disciplined and hit good areas and stay patient then you'll get rewarded," he said.

"To get three wickets at the end of the day is a pretty good feeling, not quite how I planned to get them but I guess as a bowler you take the luck when you get it," he added of his figures of 3-23 from 7.4 overs. "It's nice to have three and them five down and obviously it’s another big day tomorrow... and we will look to finish off those wickets."

Kumar Sangakkara's wicket early on the second day is the one that New Zealand will be seeking the most though they may focus on running through their tail, according to Bracewell. "He is obviously a very good player and we will have to be smart with our plans," Bracewell said. "We will have a yarn in the morning and work out some plans and look to attack the new players coming in. At the same time we're still looking to get him early tomorrow."