A stomach bug wasn't enough to take Tim Southee down as the veteran pacer stepped on the field this Saturday (February 8) for the second ODI against India in Auckland determined to leave his mark for New Zealand.
Southee, dealing with pain, picked up two wickets, including one of the great Virat Kohli, in his relentless, skilful spell of 2/41 as the Black Caps went on to clinch victory by 22 runs and seal the three-match series with an unassailable 2-0 lead.
His act showing exemplary leadership qualities, Southee was heaped with effusive praise by teammate and fast bowling partner Hamish Bennett.
"For him to do that, it just shows how much wearing the silver fern on his chest means to him," PTI quoted Bennett as saying. "He’s a good leader in our side and his actions have a lot to do with that and last night we saw that. He led by example, to show that no matter what the situation is, you’ve just got to go out there and get the job done."
"As New Zealanders, that’s what we pride ourselves on, getting the job done, whether we’re fit or not fit. It was a pretty brave effort."
The Kiwis, in absence of injured Trent Boult, Lockie Ferguson and Matt Henry, needed Southee to overcome the struggles leading upto this game as they went about defending the less than ideal score of 273/8 at Eden Park.
"It's a funny ground, it is small boundary wise and scores here haven’t been too high, as people would like to believe," Bennett said. "It is not an easy ground to bat in the ODIs. We knew if we get early wickets we could put pressure on their batting order."
“They have a couple of key players, and once we got them early, you can put pressure on any batting group doing that. Last night we were fortunate that our plans came off."
Apart from Southee, Bennett and debutant Kyle Jamieson also did their job. “Kyle and I have played together in Auckland. We have trained together and I remember when we were at Lincoln University nets. He bowled to Tom Latham (in the nets) and almost hit him on the throat. He is tall, gets that bounce and was quick as well. I have always felt there will be a time for Kyle."
"Being big means he would have some problems physically, but he has got over them, and now has a bright future ahead of him, no doubt," said Bennett.
The Black Caps have made a strong statement after going 5-0 in the T20Is. “Our young bowling unit has done pretty well. Energy is high in the group and we want to secure as much as we can and enjoy this challenge," Bennett said. "We have done it well in the last two matches, although we weren’t far off in the T20s either just needed a bit of luck. Fortunately, through the ODI series, luck has been on our side."
"It has been a great challenge against India. They are a world-class side and have played some great cricket on this tour. I have loved every over I have bowled in this series. I have enjoyed playing out there for my country. Humbled to do that even if it is a cliche," he concluded.
The third and final game of the series will be played in Mount Maunganui on Tuesday (February 11).
(Inputs from PTI)