Mumbai: With the World Cup less than two months away, New Zealand pace spearhead Tim Southee says the upcoming Asia Cup will be a big part of India’s preparations for the showpiece while admitting that scheduling of T20 competitions has made it difficult for teams to align resources.
India announced an extended 17-member squad for the Asia Cup starting August 30, including Sanju Samson as travelling stand-by player since KL Rahul — the preferred wicketkeeper-batter at No. 5 — has picked up a niggle to his original injury.
“I guess ideally you want to play as much as you can together and to lead into a World Cup. But I think you look at the Asia Cup, and what better place to have your team together around that? “I’d imagine that is going to be a big part of the Indian team’s preparation at the Asia Cup,” Southee told the media here on the sidelines of the Ceat Cricket Rating Award on Monday.
Southee also backed the Indian batters to have plans against left-arm pace, while acknowledging the role of compatriot Trent Boult and Pakistan’s Shaheen Shah Afridi in causing troubles.
“I don’t know what it is, but it was always handy to have a left-armer — something probably people don’t face a lot of. Those two guys that you mentioned, Shaheen Shah and Trent Boult, are quality bowlers and have caused a lot of players headaches over the years,” said the Kiwi bowler.
“I do not think it is too much of an issue. I’m sure the Indian players — world class players — will have solid game plans to whoever bowler they come up against,” he added.
The 34-year-old said New Zealand hope to have a fit Kane Williamson in time for the World Cup.
“Kane is doing everything possible to make sure he’s alright for the World Cup. We won’t know until we get closer to the World Cup, whether he will be available or not. I guess it is just wait and see with Kane,” he said.
“(If) you look at us, with such a small cricketing nation, he’s arguably one of our best ever cricketers. Any side that doesn’t have him in it is going to miss him. We’re hoping his recovery goes well and hoping that he’s going to be okay, but if he doesn’t, then it presents an opportunity for someone else to to step up,” Southee said.
“Over the last couple of years we’ve been able to build some depth from some players and I’m sure we’ll find someone that can fill that role,” he added.
The Kiwi bowler said all teams will look to have their World Cup players spending the coming weeks together in order to finalise their preparations for the mega event.
After an away bilateral series for four T20Is and as many ODIs, New Zealand will face England in the World Cup opener in Ahmedabad on October 5.
“It’s been tough for all sides at the moment with T20 cricket and juggling the different formats and busy schedules to have your (players) started and living together for a long period of time, but I’d imagine that will change in the next couple of months in the lead up to the World Cup,” he said.
Southee also hoped the New Zealand players who were part of IPL this year would use their experience of the pitches and conditions.
“Every time you’ve come to these parts of the world, the guys that (are) from New Zealand that were involved in the IPL earlier in the year, would have gained as much knowledge as they can about the grounds and the surfaces that we’ll be playing on,” he said.