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Southee braces for third ODI nail-biter

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 24/02/2017

Tim Southee. © MARTY MELVILLE/Getty Images Tim Southee. Tim Southee knows better than most the fine margins between victory and defeat in a one-day international.

Serving as the Black Caps' death bowler, the paceman was thumped for 14 in the final over to hand South Africa victory in Sunday's first ODI in Hamilton.

Yet three days on and in a near-identical position, the Northlander forced four dot balls from Andile Phehlukwayo to guarantee his side a series-levelling ODI win.

"It's great to be involved in games that go down to the wire and as a death bowler, it's something you look forward to," the 28-year-old said.

"Not every time it'll come off, but when it does it's very satisfying.

"It shows you the evenness between two quality sides, going at it."

Having tied up the five-match series in Christchurch, New Zealand head into Saturday's third ODI tussle in Wellington looking to inch their noses in front.

Both sides have relied on the crutch of established batting stars at times, with AB de Villiers the match-winner in Hamilton and Ross Taylor nabbing 102 in Canterbury.

Southee put the 33-year-old Proteas skipper on a pedestal with Indian star Virat Kohli as the two deadliest finishers in the game.

"(They're) the two guys in world cricket, you don't rest if there's anything possible for them to chase down," Southee said.

"They've proven for a number of years that, as long as they're at the crease, anything's possible."

On the personnel front, New Zealand are expected to reintroduce Martin Guptill to the fold after the opener injured his hamstring in training last week.

Speedster Lockie Ferguson is also likely to replace second-choice spinner Ish Sodhi, who has worked in tandem with Mitch Santner for the first two ODIs.

Southee said his side's strength in depth enabled skipper Kane Williamson and mentor Mike Hesson to mix and match their XI to suit the conditions.

In Wellington that included a short square boundary and the potential for producing swing, if the wind stays away.

"The squad we've got, there's a good balance and different guys can use different conditions," Southee said.

"We've faced two different wickets and ground sizes, and I'm sure it'll be different again tomorrow."

South Africa, meanwhile, are toying with the idea of reintroducing star paceman Kagiso Rabada after a knee niggle kept him on the sidelines in Christchurch.

The 21-year-old will lead the Proteas attack in next month's three-Test series.

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