Southee and Co. licking their lips ahead of Wellington Test
New Zealand fast bowler Tim Southee. (AFP Image)

New Zealand‘s fast bowling stock in licking its lips ahead of the first Test against Sri Lanka starting Saturday in Wellington. New Zealand, having recently beaten Pakistan 2-1, return to familiar conditions at home and one of their quicks, Tim Southee is keen on performing in conditions more adept to his style. The Basin Reserve possesses a green look and with the likes of Southee, Trent Boult and Neil Wagner in the side, New Zealand’s pace attack will be quite the threat for Sri Lanka to overcome.

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“It’s back to familiar conditions, and somewhere that we’ve played very good cricket for a number of years now,” Southee said. “It’s nice to come back to conditions that we’re used to. We’ve come from a place that wasn’t easy, especially for pace bowlers. There’s a bit of excitement and a spring in the step for the fast bowlers anyway.”

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Conditions at the Basin Reserve are starkly different to the one New Zealand faced in the UAE. In the Emirates, Kane Williamson played two specialist spinners in Ajaz Patel and William Somerville. However, considering the greenery on the surface, New Zealand are likely to replace Somerville with Wagner, and expect the three-pronged pace attack to go full throttle.

“It’s nice – Trent and I have played a lot of cricket together over the years, with Neil as well, in Test cricket,” Southee said. “We’re very good mates and we enjoy each other’s success and enjoy playing alongside each other. It’s nice to be in similar sort of numbers. Trent’s done extremely well at this ground, and Neil has as well.”

Despite the green pitch, Southee mentioned how it may not always work in the interest of bowlers. The last time Sri Lanka toured New Zealand for a Test series in 2014, Kumar Sangakkara struck a double century. More recently, Bangladesh allrounder Shakib Al Hasan too recorded a double in early 2017.

“We’ve seen in the past at the Basin, that if you can get in, it’s also a very good wicket to bat on,” Southee said. “I don’t think the guys will get too carried away. We’ve come from the UAE where there’s not a lot of grass on the wicket, but here also can be very good for batting. We’re going to have to be on top of our game.

“I remember a couple of years ago Bangladesh scored 500-odd here. It’s a strength of our side not to get carried away with conditions. We don’t know what it’s going to be like when we get out there. We’ll try and assess the conditions as quick as we can.”