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Match Analysis

The day Tim Southee beat illness, odds - and Virat Kohli

He shouldn't have been out on the park at all, but Southee ended up striking the most decisive blow for New Zealand

Tim Southee bowled Virat Kohli with a beauty, New Zealand v India, 2nd ODI, Auckland, February 8, 2020

Tim Southee bowled Virat Kohli with a beauty  •  Getty Images

Keep the ball away from his off stump. Stay in that wide channel: sixth stump in name, more like tenth in reality. Make him long to feel bat on ball. Move him across his stumps. Then bowl one at the stumps, with a bit of inward movement. And hope he's having a slightly off day.
Teams try this plan all the time against Virat Kohli. It works sometimes, and doesn't at other times, but when it does, it's often memorable: think back to Vernon Philander at Newlands, or Trent Boult at Old Trafford.
New Zealand didn't have Boult on Saturday. Or Matt Henry. Or Lockie Ferguson. All three members of their first-choice ODI pace attack were out injured.
The man leading their attack in their stead would have been out too, if New Zealand had any sort of bench left over in the midst of their injury crisis. Illness should have ruled him out, but Mitchell Santner was a few degrees ill-er, and New Zealand could only afford to have one of them sit out. By the end of this day, they would have Luke Ronchi, their assistant coach, come out as substitute fielder.
And so we came to the sight of Tim Southee, ball in hand, ghostly expression on face, looking like he'd rather be anywhere but Eden Park.
Illness aside, Southee came into this game under a certain amount of pressure - from New Zealand's fans, certainly, if not from his team management. He had gone for 85 in his 10 overs in the first ODI, spraying the ball around and looking nothing like his best self. Before that, he had bowled two losing Super Overs in consecutive T20Is.
Southee didn't begin particularly well on Saturday evening. He was getting the ball to swing away from the right-handers under the lights, but every so often he was offering up a freebie. Short and wide at the end of his first over, full and wide midway through his second, and Prithvi Shaw slapped both to the off-side boundary.
But a well-defined plan can often snap a bowler's radar back into place, and Southee discovered this when Kohli walked in, after Hamish Bennett had sent back Mayank Agarwal at the other end.
Southee had seven fielders on the off side - including, at one point, three slips and a gully - and only mid-on and fine leg on the leg side. To execute the Kohli plan, he would have to be precise with his line and length.
And Southee, grimacing between deliveries, clutching his hip every now and then, walking back to his mark pale-faced, was just that. The swing, perhaps unusually for white-ball cricket, was persisting into his third over. Kohli reached out for an outswinger and missed. He drove at the next one and sliced it squarer than intended, towards backward point rather than into the covers.
'We came to the sight of Tim Southee, ball in hand, ghostly expression on face, looking like he'd rather be anywhere but Eden Park - almost by default.'
At the other end, making his debut, Kyle Jamieson had bowled Prithvi Shaw with an inducker. Now he nearly had Kohli caught-and-bowled, the reflex chance refusing to stick in his left hand. Then he teased Kohli with more wide-of-off-stump bowling. Kohli left two balls alone, and pushed or jabbed the rest into the off side.
When Kohli came back on strike to Southee, he moved down the track and across his stumps, to get closer to the pitch of the ball and manufacture a double into the vacant square-leg region. Southee responded with the widest outswinger of his spell, wide enough to make the umpire signal wide.
Kohli, continuing to shimmy out of his crease, jabbed the next two balls into the off side, and left the last ball alone.
After eight overs, India were 47 for 2 chasing 274. Kohli had negotiated this sort of situation numerous times, but on 8 off 18 without a boundary, he was looking just a touch edgy, just a touch too keen to assert himself. Or this could simply be hindsight arranging events into an easily recognisable shape.
Either way, Southee bowled three more balls to Kohli on Saturday evening, and two of them - either side of a single to get off strike - were offcutters angled into the stumps. Kohli missed both of them.
It's rare for Kohli to miss two incoming balls in a row, but that's what happened at Eden Park. Southee, with a bit of help from Jamieson, had caused a little kink to appear in Kohli's technique. His eagerness to walk across his stumps was causing his head to fall over ever so slightly, and that, combined with the big gap at midwicket, was causing him to play around his front pad and across the line of the ball. At his best, Kohli would have hit both balls towards mid-on, with a straight bat.
On this day, both balls beat his inside edge. The first could have been lbw had the umpire thought so. The second, fuller, seam scrambled in the air, left no doubt in anyone's mind, brushing the front pad before crashing into middle and leg stumps.
This was the ninth time Southee had dismissed Kohli in all international cricket. No other bowler has dismissed him as many times. The moment might have given way to an explosive celebration on another day, but Southee, still under the weather, barely managed a smile as he exchanged weak high-tens with his team-mates.
He somehow got through another over, to end with first-spell figures of 6-0-33-1. That could have been that, given his state, but he came back in the 19th over for another spell, New Zealand deciding to bowl him out early and allow him to go off the field for good.
This four-over spell was perhaps even better than the first one. The length was a little shorter in deference to the ball's age - though the swing hadn't entirely gone away - and to the short straight boundaries, and cross-seam deliveries were interspersed among seam-up balls that continued to wobble this way and that. Kedar Jadhav, batting on 9 off 32, looked to drive one that wasn't quite pitched full enough, and spooned a catch to cover.
Ravindra Jadeja, new to the crease, struggled with the angle across him and the movement from just short of a length. There was a poke and a miss, a couple of nervy jabs into the off side, a wild yahoo after jumping out of the crease, and an educated slash that flew over the slips for four.
And then, having bowled 10 out of the first 25 overs of India's innings, having taken two out of five wickets, Southee dragged himself off the field, all expression drained from his face as his team-mates' pats rained on his back.

Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo