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Lea Tahuhu: 'When there's been a few lows, it makes the highs even better'

Fast bowler says her comeback after having a pre-cancerous mole removed is the kind of performance "you would dream of"

Valkerie Baynes
Valkerie Baynes
"I'm a pretty stubborn person, as most fast bowlers are" - Lea Tahuhu  •  Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images

"I'm a pretty stubborn person, as most fast bowlers are" - Lea Tahuhu  •  Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images

Lea Tahuhu admits it was touch-and-go as to whether she would be able to play any part in New Zealand's tour of England after undergoing foot surgery.
On Tuesday in Leicester, fast bowler Tahuhu took a career-best 5 for 37 to bowl England out for a below-par 178 and she hit the winning runs as the White Ferns overhauled the target - on the back of Maddy Green's unbeaten half-century - to keep the ODI series alive.
England still lead 2-1, but Tahuhu believes the victory will give her side an important confidence boost with two matches left to play, in Derby on Thursday and Canterbury on Sunday.
Having missed the T20I leg of the tour, which England won 2-1, after having a pre-cancerous mole removed from her foot over the New Zealand winter, Tahuhu said she wasn't sure she would be able to come back as strongly as she had.
"If you'd asked me that 10 weeks ago I would have said no," Tahuhu said. "But I've worked pretty closely with the team over here and we've done a great job behind the scenes of getting ready to go.
"If you'd asked me if I could put out a performance like that, well you dream of those things don't you? So it's just nice to be able to contribute to a win for the White Ferns."
Tahuhu had spoken before the tour about her difficulty coming to terms with the skin cancer scare and three surgeries, including a skin graft. On Tuesday she revealed she had left New Zealand uncertain that she would be able to play at all in England.
"There was a point where it was looking pretty iffy for me to be on this tour to be completely honest with you," she said. "But look, I'm a pretty stubborn person, as most fast bowlers are, so I worked pretty hard to prove that I would be able to be an option for these one-day games.
"The T20s were a bit too early on in the rehab, but to be able to be there and be available for selection for the one-day games sort of only became realistic probably by the time we landed here in England.
"Full credit to the to the medical team for helping me get back on the pitch sooner than expected."
Asked to pick a personal highlight from Tuesday's match - her maiden international five-wicket haul or bringing up the win with a huge six off Tash Farrant in a cameo of 19 from 15 balls - there was one clear answer.
"Definitely the five-for, first one for me so it was a great feeling," she said. "The last few months there's been a few lows and it makes that high even better and more and more enjoyable, that's for sure."
New Zealand have pushed England numerous times during this tour and to have finally broken through in a must-win ODI - just as they did in the second T20I - could provide the boost they need to push the series to a fifth-match decider.
"That was obviously really important that we did get a win today so to be able to sort of tick that off and then move to the next game knowing that the series is still alive, is a really great thing for this group," she said.
"I think it'll be huge for the confidence of the team and we've got to turn around and try and do the same thing again on Thursday to make sure that we do keep the series alive heading into that final game."
Tahuhu was joined in the pace attack by debutant Molly Penfold, who claimed the wickets of potentially dangerous middle-order batters Amy Jones and Danni Wyatt in just her second and third overs in international cricket respectively.
"It's brilliant to see another pace bowler out there, hitting the wicket hard and taking a couple of poles." Tahuhu said. "She's been someone who has been developing really on a career path up, so it's just exciting to get out there alongside her.
"She was obviously buzzing and had to wait a while to get the ball in hand but once she got it she was away. It's really excited to see what she'll continue to do, I think she'll really challenge that speed gun and it's an exciting time."

Valkerie Baynes is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo