Andrew Alderson

Andrew Alderson is a sport writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Cricket: Southee in awe of NZ strike power

If the New Zealand cricketers aim for anything on their mobile team dartboard today, it should be a double-one.

It's not the most flattering of darts scores by Phil "The Power" Taylor standards but in cricket terms one victory today in Nelson and another on Wednesday in Hamilton means they clamber further towards consistency with a series victory over the West Indies.

A key will be the present batting line-up which, form permitting, will represent New Zealand at the World Cup in 13 months. Tim Southee summed them up as "natural born strikers".

It rings true as you peruse a top six in Queenstown consisting of Martin Guptill, Jesse Ryder, Brendon McCullum, Ross Taylor, Corey Anderson and Luke Ronchi. Kane Williamson only enhances that order when he slots back at No 3.

Southee said the Queenstown smorgasbord which saw New Zealand amass 283 for 4 in a rain-shortened 21 overs, is probably the best hitting he's seen live.

"I sat with Kane Williamson and we stopped clapping fours because we would've been clapping the whole time. It was something special.

"Any one guy [from the top six] can take the match away from the opposition."

West Indies captain Dwayne Bravo was also impressed, saying afterwards he wanted to see Anderson in the Indian Premier League with his Chennai Super Kings franchise under coach Stephen Fleming.

He also hoped today's match would be of longer duration.

"He [Anderson] had freedom with it being a shorter [21 over] game. I don't think he would have played an innings like that otherwise.

"Hopefully we'll play 50 overs and see if our bowlers have the courage and guts to bounce back, which I believe they do. We'll start by trying to bowl the right [off] side of the wicket."

The five-match series is level at 1-1 with two games to play. However, the West Indies have not been helped by Darren Bravo returning home for "personal reasons" and Darren Sammy likely to be ruled out of the tour with a hamstring strain.

The visitors are also set to be without Chris Gayle, Kemar Roach and Kieron Pollard due to injury.

"We have a lot of cricket ahead in 2014, including the defence of our World T20 title so we don't want to rush anyone back too soon," Bravo said.

Meanwhile, Southee has recovered from minor toe surgery and looks set to be selected.

He said the toe can end up quite bloody after any bowling workout but, with a maximum 10 overs available in ODIs, he's confident he can get through an innings.

He's unlikely to cut a hole in his boot to relieve pressure on the toe, reserving that for test matches.

Saxton Oval will debut as an international venue today with a sell-out crowd of approximately 5300 expected.

Rain is forecast later in the day.

- NZ Herald

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