Southee backs Black Caps bowlers to deliver
Tim Southee is confident the Black Caps have the bowling resources to go deep into the Twenty20 World Cup this month and predicts a close entree series with India.
The two-match series opener is on Sunday morning in Visakhapatnam on India's southeast coast, before both sides head to Sri Lanka for the World Cup.
The New Zealand side's bowling has been one of their few strengths this winter. However, the bowlers look more competitive in the shortest form of the game.
Southee - fresh off the career-best test figures of seven for 64 - has again found his rhythm, confidence and zip; the pacey Adam Milne has been recalled, and the side has five genuine spin options, including Daniel Vettori who has popped out of T20 retirement for the tournament.
However, most pleasing is likely to be the form of Jacob Oram, 34.
While New Zealand were being beaten 2-0 in the tests by India, Oram was starring in the Sri Lankan Premier League T20 competition.
Oram was the joint leading wicket-taker, with 11 scalps at an impressive average of 8.00 and a phenomenal economy rate of 3.82 runs per over as he helped his Uva Next side win the competition.
"Milney's shown he's got that extra yard of pace and that great variation too. We've got the experience of Dan [Vettori] and Ronnie Hira, who's proven to be one of the better bowlers in domestic T20 for the last couple of years ... ," Southee said.
Southee's test form has lacked consistency but his Twenty20 form and ability to bowl at the death are proven.
With the spin options of Vettori, Hira and Nathan McCullum - plus Kane Williamson and Rob Nicol if needed - captain Ross Taylor is well served.
"It's a great mix between exciting young talent and some old wise heads with plenty of experience on their side," Southee said.
With four matches before the side's World Cup opener - two in India, then official warmup matches against Australia and South Africa in Sri Lanka - Southee expects his side to be well prepared for their opening match against Bangladesh on September 21.
Their other pool match is against Pakistan two days later, and New Zealand will need one win to qualify for the Super Eight stages.
"We believe we've got a very good side that will do well in the World Cup," Southee said. "[But] it's about grabbing some momentum and that starts with the first game against India."
Southee, 23, said there was plenty of room for improvement in his own game, especially in tests.
His seven for 64 in the five-wicket loss to India this week were the sixth-best test bowling figures by a Kiwi and the second best on the subcontinent.
However, more time in the team equals more confidence, and that will mean more wickets, the fast bowler says.
"Obviously, [my form's] been a bit up and down but I want to play consistently," he said.
"And that's when the best comes out of you, when you play consistently."
Southee has played just one test in each of New Zealand's past three series, and has been overlooked for four games since South Africa were in New Zealand last summer.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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