Boult, Southee ready to fire up

The Southland Times - - SPORT - MARK GEENTY

Watch­ing Trent Boult top 145kmh on the speed radar at Mt Maun­ganui was as good a sign as any for Kane Wil­liamson.

Com­bined with Tim Southee’s eight-wicket haul in their pre­vi­ous test, the Hamil­ton heart-stop­per against Pak­istan in Novem­ber, and New Zealand’s cap­tain is con­fi­dent his dy­namic duo are fi­nally back in busi­ness.

The artists for­merly known as the best bowl­ing one-two punch might be aided by min­i­mal re­sis­tance from Bangladesh in the first test start­ing to­day on a typ­i­cally green Basin Re­serve pitch in Welling­ton that sea­soned ob­servers rated softer than usual.

With min­i­mal sun yes­ter­day to dry it, and rain and gale force winds forecast for day one, both sets of bats­men may face awk­ward seam­ing con­di­tions for a bit longer than the two ses­sions it took to flat­ten out in Fe­bru­ary.

Then, New Zealand’s bats­men lasted just 48 overs against Aus­tralia who replied with 562 and can­tered to an in­nings and 52 run vic­tory.

The tourists, who were greeted by the 5.2 earth­quake that wob­bled the Vance Stand, spent time shadow bat­ting on the emer­ald pitch, shak­ing their heads and quizzing grounds­man Hagen Faith. It’s bowl first for both cap­tains, with Wil­liamson hint­ing at a pre­dictable 11 with Matt Henry and Dean Brown­lie miss­ing out. He hopes to throw Boult and Southee the new ball at 11am con­fi­dent they can fire in tan­dem af­ter an in­dif­fer­ent last 18 months, with three big tests against Africa loom­ing in March.

‘‘In re­cent years they’ve been look­ing to get back to that where the ball swung for a long pe­riod of time and they bowled quickly,’’ Wil­liamson said.

‘‘They’re cer­tainly show­ing those signs again. Trent in the last T20 might have hit 145 or 146 which is re­ally promis­ing be­cause we know when he’s bowl­ing fast and swing­ing it for a long time he’s been one of the best bowlers in the world. We’ll be hop­ing for more of that go­ing into a lot of test matches in the next wee while.’’

Last year Boult snared 31 test wick­ets at 33 and Southee 27 at 32, plac­ing them 15th and 20th on the world charts for 2016. Third seamer Neil Wag­ner was ninth, with 41 wick­ets at 21, and is cur­rently ranked the high­est at 11, with Boult and Southee fill­ing the next two spots.

Boult took some pun­ish­ment at Bay Oval but a rapid over down­wind was the quick­est Wil­liamson had seen him bowl. South

‘‘When they said it was 145 I thought that was bril­liant. I sort of won­dered what de­liv­ery it was, then I heard he [Boult] bowled a few more of them. That’s a good sign that he’s get­ting rhythm.

‘‘To be fair he’s been bowl­ing re­ally well and he’s a world class per­former. For a cou­ple of years him and Tim were at the top of their game and they’ve still been bowl­ing re­ally well even if it hasn’t been the best that they’ve wanted. That’s the class of those two and they’re cer­tainly get­ting back to that point.’’

For all that, the mi­cro­scope will be on New Zealand’s bat­ting with Ross Tay­lor re­turn­ing, one short of Martin Crowe’s record of 17 test cen­turies, and Henry Ni­cholls and Colin de Grand­homme both need­ing to prove they’re wor­thy of the Black Caps top six.

Bangladesh have a green pace at­tack with Taskin Ahmed set to de­but at 21 along­side Rubel Hos­sain and Subashis Roy, with the im­pres­sive Mustafizur Rah­man not be­ing rushed into the test cricket arena.

While the bowl­ing has looked handy in six lim­ited overs de­feats, bat­ting hor­rors re­main for the tourists.

‘‘It is time that we prove our­selves in over­seas con­di­tions. The bats­men have to take the big­gest chal­lenge,’’ cap­tain Mush­fiqur Rahim said. ‘‘Some of them like Tamim, Shakib and Mah­mudul­lah have done well in tests here in the past but now we need a col­lec­tive ef­fort from the bats­men, which we failed to do in the ODIs and T20s. We are ca­pa­ble so this is our op­por­tu­nity to do it.’’

It’s hard to ar­gue with New Zealand be­ing rated $1.20 favourites. Bangladesh have won three of their 43 tests over­seas and, re­mark­ably haven’t played an away test since Septem­ber, 2014. On re­cent ev­i­dence they’re strug­gling to close the gap, and in four tests in New Zealand their nar­row­est loss was by nine wick­ets in Dunedin in 2008.

PHOTO: REUTERS

Trent Boult was clocked at 145kmh in the third T20 in­ter­na­tional against Bangladesh.

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