New Zealand seamer Tim Southee is unconcerned about the perception of his side as underdogs despite their resounding success across all formats in recent years.
Beaten finalists at both the 2015 and 2019 50-over World Cups, the Black Caps shed their bridesmaid tag in June when they were crowned inaugural winners of the World Test Championship after defeating India in the final.
The Kiwis were unheralded ahead of the T20 World Cup campaign but bounced back from losing their opener to Pakistan to qualify from the Super 12s with four wins in a row before overcoming heavily-fancied England in the semi-final.
Victory in Sunday’s final over Australia who like New Zealand have never won this tournament, would cap a memorable year for a side that have grown accustomed to being a regular feature at the deep end at global events.
“You hear all the outside noise but as a group we just try and stay pretty level,” said Southee, who has bowled his allotment in all of New Zealand’s six matches and is yet to concede 30 runs in an innings.
“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’s tournament economy rate of 5.75 is impressive given many of his overs have come in the powerplay while, in taking eight wickets so far, he has gone past 100 in T20 internationals for New Zealand.
The distinguished 32-year-old was part of the side that got to the final of the 50-over World Cup six years ago in a tournament they co-hosted alongside Australia, who prevailed in a one-sided showpiece by seven wickets.
New Zealand were also thumped in a Test series across the Tasman two years ago although they won 3-2 against a weakened Australia across five T20s earlier this year.
“I guess Australia have been a very strong side for a long time,” added Southee. “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 were given a setback in preparations as they announced Devon Conway would miss out in Dubai with a broken hand, sustained when he punched his bat in frustration after being dismissed in their win over England.
An x-ray has shown the wicketkeeper-batter suffered a break to the fifth metacarpal in his right hand, with Tim Seifert, who has played just once during the tournament, expected to come into the reckoning.
“I know Devon’s hurting, especially with such a big occasion on Sunday,” said Southee. “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.”