Tim Southee singled out level-headedness as one of New Zealand’s greatest strengths, as they gear up to take on Australia in the T20 World Cup 2021 final in Dubai on Sunday. Southee marked the trans-Tasman rivals as a strong side, but was confident of his team being up for the challenge.
After having lost to Pakistan in their T20 World Cup 2021 opener, New Zealand won five on the trot, including the semifinal against England on Wednesday, to romp into their maiden title clash in the seventh edition of the tournament.
Despite them having finished runners-up at the 2015 and 2019 World Cups and winners of the World Test Championship 2021, the Blackcaps are still considered “underdogs” by many.
As for Tim Southee, who has bagged eight wickets in the competition at 17.25, it’s all about staying level and avoid “the outside noise”.
"You hear all the outside noise but as a group we just try and stay pretty level," said Southee, ahead of the final against Australia on Sunday. "We don't beat ourselves up if we lose a game. Look at the first game against Pakistan, we weren't too far off, we didn't try and reinvent the wheel, we just knew we had to make small adjustments and improve in certain areas.
"We've assessed the conditions reasonably well. We've had to chop and change between venues, day games and night games but as a whole we've all been pretty consistent and quick in adapting.
"We've done that throughout the tournament. One of the strengths of the side is just to stay level in everything we do, but we've definitely been a lot more consistent in world events, especially."
Southee, who was an integral part of the team’s run to the 2015 World Cup final where they lost to Australia, labelled the opponents as a “very strong side” with quality players throughout.
"I guess Australia have been a very strong side for a long time," he said. "We haven't played them in a final since 2015 but - I know they weren't at full strength - we beat them in a T20 series not so long ago. We know they're a dangerous side but it's a final, anything can happen. I don't think there's any fear, we've played against some quality oppositions throughout the tournament.
"They're very similar to the England line-up where they've got dangerous batters throughout but as a bowler you want to challenge yourself against the best and Australia have got plenty of quality players."
New Zealand will miss the services of Devon Conway, who has been ruled out with a hand injury, after having stroked a crucial 46 in the semifinal. Head coach Gary Stead has already hinted at Tim Seifert being a potential replacement. Southee viewed Conway’s absence as an opportunity for someone else in the squad to make a mark.
"I know Devon's hurting, especially with such a big occasion on Sunday," he said. "It presents an opportunity for someone else.
"You never want this to happen to anyone but when it does, you hope that those guys that haven't been playing are as well prepared as they can be."