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ICC World Cup 2015: Tim Southee backs New Zealand`s bench men

Napier: New Zealand`s Tim Southee backed the team`s bench strength to deliver as the Black Caps ponder whether to play one or more of their four reserves in a World Cup game against Afghanistan in Napier on Sunday.

Co-hosts New Zealand have won all four of their matches so far with the same XI to stand atop Pool A and have already booked their place in the quarter-finals.

But any one of seamers Kyle Mills and Mitchell McClenaghan, off-spinner Nathan McCullum and back-up batsman Tom Latham can come in if New Zealand opt to rest one of their main players.

Southee, the tournament`s leading wicket-taker with 13, said the four, as yet unused, squad men had been working hard.

"They`ve been brilliant," Southee, who has been suffering from a fever, said on Thursday. 

"They`re training the house down, bowling exceptionally well in the nets and offering a lot as the `dirties`. Their heads are still up and they`re wanting what`s best for the team."

All four reserves have not played since featuring in the two one-day internationals against Pakistan in January-February, but Southee said the whole quartet were ready if called upon.

"Their attitude and work ethic away from the game has been outstanding, so I`m sure when they get their chance, if it comes in a quarter-final or semifinal, we know they`re ready to go. They`re banging the door down waiting for their chance."

Southee praised the bowling unit, with new-ball partner Trent Boult sharing second spot in the World Cup bowling charts with ten wickets.

Australia`s Mitchell Starc also has ten scalps.

"We`ve bowled well for a long time now and it`s great to see a few of the guys -- I think Dan`s (Daniel Vettori) up there as well -- among the leading wicket-takers. 

"I`m sure the batsmen will have their turn as the tournament goes on," said Southee.

Southee, who missed training on Wednesday due to fever, said he was fit.

"I am fit, all 15 guys guys are fit and ready to go so we`ll just have to wait and see what Mike (Hesson, New Zealand`s coach) and (skipper) Brendon (McCullum) decide to do with the team," Southee said.

Afghanistan have won one of their four games, against Scotland and lost the remaining three. 

They were on the receiving end of a big 275-run mauling at the hands of co-hosts Australia in Perth on Wednesday.

New Zealand`s last group game will be against Bangladesh in Hamilton on March 13.

The top four teams from each of the two pools earn quarter-final berths. The final will be played in Melbourne on March 29.

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