Southee praises 'unnoticed' Wagner
Wagner has often been the workhorse wheeling away in the background while strike bowlers Southee and Trent Boult share the limelight, but at Eden Park, Wagner dismissed several key batsmen on his way to a match haul of eight wickets. Southee was glad that the role played by a key component of an increasingly productive attack was being acknowledged.
"It is pleasing to see Wags finally get some credit for the hard work he's done over the past few years," Southee said. "I think a lot of it goes unnoticed, not unnoticed by the team, but unnoticed by people watching and probably outside. He does a hell of a job for us and it was pleasing to see him do so well and reap some rewards.
"He complements myself and Trent very well. He loves bowling with the old ball and somehow he manages to pick up wickets just before the second new ball and that makes it easier for myself and Trent to come in where there's two new batsmen around with the second new ball."
The trio of Southee, Boult and Wagner have been bowling New Zealand to Test wins throughout this home summer. There were successive ones against West Indies in Wellington and Hamilton before the Auckland thriller against India. Southee was proud of this grouping and the way they were progressing.
"It is nice to have an attack where you can take 20 wickets. We have over the last few Test matches. We have shown a lot of promise over the last year, year and a half and we keep continuing to improve. It is good," Southee said. "We all complement each other very well. We are forming a good partnership and hopefully we can keep that going in the direction it is."
The Indian batsmen had not been allowed to get away as the New Zealand quicks executed their plans to perfection. This was the reason for the hosts' success, Southee said.
"I think the way we bowled as a group, I think we kept the pressure on and bowled in partnerships and as you saw the wickets were shared around between the three of us. That shows you that we never really gave them a let-off. There was always someone who was coming hard at different times.
"They are quality players and you just have to up your game. It becomes a game of patience and sort of who falls first. Little bit of movement off the deck helps as well. The new ball always helps and taking regular wickets and getting batsmen out there and not giving them a chance to settle goes a massive way to creating that pressure.
"We have put a lot of thought, and research goes into plans before the series. It is pleasing to see them come off. Shane (Bond) and the computer analysts and Mike Hesson, they put these plans in and it is a reward for them to see the bowlers sticking to them and the success we are having. It is the consistency we are bowling with and the familiar conditions we are used to."
While the Indians no longer had the big batting names of recent years, they came back from a disappointing first innings in Auckland to make 366 in the chase, falling short by 40 runs. Southee said India had a promising line-up, and that New Zealand were expecting a stiff contest in Wellington.
"They don't have the names like the Tendulkars, the Dravids and the Laxmans but they have got the potential to be great players. It is the first time to New Zealand for a few of those players and foreign conditions for them. We have bowled well as a unit and it has put pressure on their batters.
"They have obviously had a disappointing tour and are too good a side to roll over. They'll come hard and they will want to have a win on the tour. They are a far better side than they have shown on this tour so far. They have a lot to prove in this last Test and have a got a lot of quality players and I am sure we are going to have to up our game. They'll come out and hopefully look to finish their tour on a high. Hopefully we can keep them winless on their trip to New Zealand."
Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo