Tim Southee on Saturday became the bowler who has dismissed Virat Kohli the most number of times in international cricket. It was the ninth such occasion that Southee has gotten Kohli and he credits assistance from helpful pitch conditions and new ball for the feat.
“He is obviously a class player and doesn’t have many weaknesses,” Southee said on the eve of the third ODI between India and New Zealand to be played on Tuesday. “I think the wicket had a little bit of assistance with the new ball and if you put it in the right areas, there was enough there to ask a few questions. It is about assistance and the pitch conditions.”
Southee isn’t aware of the record though. “It is your job to take wickets…And Virat is a great player and he has been in great form. Especially in run chases he is exceptional, so I guess it’s always nice to see the back of him. I didn’t know that was the most,” he said.
After a 0-5 hammering in the five-match T20I series, New Zealand have exacted a sort of revenge by winning the first two ODIs of the ongoing three-match series. That they have done in the absence of first-choice stars of the likes of Kane Williamson, Trent Boult, Matt Henry, Lockie Ferguson among others, makes the win even sweeter.
However, Southee feels that the victories shouldn’t be a surprise as they have been a consistent performers in ODI cricket for some time now. “…they have been two great games of cricket and the ODI side has played some good cricket for a while even though we have been missing some important guys,” he said.
He continued, “The guys have played great ODI cricket for a while now, although it was our first time since the World Cup. But the group has played well for a long time.”
The ongoing ODI series is the first time New Zealand have played the format since their heartbreaking World Cup final defeat to England having making the final of the showpiece event for a second time in a row.
Southee took the field in the second ODI despite being ill, showing exceptional commitments even though he looked uncomfortable on several occassions. “It was pretty tough but you have made the commitment to play. So you have to crack on and not leave your teammates hanging. Try to do a job for the guys. It was just a 24-hour bug and couple of friends had it,” the 31-year-old Southee said.
New Zealand gave debut to tall pacer Kyle Jamieson who produced a man-of-the-match performance. “…It is a pleasing sign of the environment as well. Kyle came up and played well on his debut, he was comfortable coming in than most people,” he said.
The Bay Oval ground, venue of the third ODI, is a regular park and quite different from Hamilton and Auckland and adaptability will be a challenge for both the teams. “…it is part and parcel of playing in New Zealand. You have to adapt to different grounds, some are cricket grounds, and some are rugby grounds. It is about adapting to different challenges and adapting to surfaces as well as grounds,” he said.
“…it is the same with cricket (everywhere), you have different soils and pitches, obviously different sizes and dimensions at most grounds across the world. So as cricketers it is something you just have to adapt to,” he added.
The limited-overs leg of India’s tour ends with the third ODI and will make way for a two-match Test series. When asked whether New Zealand will prefer bowler-friendly pitches, Southee replied, “We always want pitches for the bowlers. Yeah I guess that’s our focus after the ODIs, we will turn to the Tests. It is nice to see a little bit of assistance for the bowlers…”