The Black Caps have the big boys on the ropes and are now desperate to land the knockout blow.
Having gone 2-0 up in the five-match series against India after a 15-run victory in Hamilton last night, New Zealand head to Auckland for a defining third ODI on Saturday which could secure them a valuable series win or signal a fightback by the tourists, who will also be out to regain the world No 1 ranking from Australia.
Consistency is what the Black Caps have been striving for. Two wins in a row, against this calibre of opposition is great, but captain Brendon McCullum knows it doesn't take much for things to turn for the worse.
"We're playing some decent cricket at the moment and the challenge for us is to keep putting it together, because we know India are going to keep improving," he said. "It's nice that we've started this way but we've got to focus on the next game."
Eden Park's quicker surface will see Hamish Bennett likely brought into the XI, McCullum said, while he is hopeful Jesse Ryder will be available, after leaving the field early in last night's chase after taking a knock on the finger.
New Zealand weren't at their optimum in the field last night, but despite that, still found a way to win, which does wonders for the confidence.
"I still think we can improve from an attention point of view in the field. I thought we weren't quite as sharp as we should be.
"And I think under pressure against a very good Indian batting lineup, we've delivered at key times," McCullum said, adding he was encouraged that different guys in the bowling unit were stepping up. Last night Tim Southee picked up four crucial wickets, surpassing 100 ODI scalps in the process, while, despite being pasted earlier, Corey Anderson was thrown the ball at the end, and delivered.
"One of the things we try to do is ensure that you keep giving guys opportunities even though they may not start well in games," McCullum said. "You've got to keep going back to them because otherwise they never get the opportunity to learn either."
From a batting point of view, the blueprint was executed spot on as Kane Williamson (77) and Ross Taylor (57) again gave a platform for Corey Anderson (44 off 17) to launch two fours and five sixes in a stinging assault which saw New Zealand post a big 292-7 off their rain-reduced 42 overs and see Tui hand out another $100,000 to crowd catcher Jatinder Singh from Te Aroha.
While Virat Kohli (78 off 65) and MS Dhoni (56 off 44) threatened the target, they again weren't able to see their side through, finishing 277-9.
Dhoni was left lamenting a sedate start to their chase, on a wicket which he felt became two-paced.
"I thought once we got off to a start, the openers should have carried on for a bit longer, they could have played a few more shots, got a few more runs and taken a bit of pressure off the middle order," said the skipper.
"Also I think what some of the batters are going through is a phase where first when you come and play a few games you just play your natural game and then all of a sudden you have a reputation to carry on, and that actually puts a bit of pressure on them. But with more and more games they realise themselves what their particular game is and back themselves to play that game."
In the bowling department, Dhoni wants his attack to be more accurate and not concede so many boundaries on the first and last balls of overs.
"We'll have to change a few things, how we're going to play our cricket. But we are definitely looking forward to Auckland.
"As far as the morale is concerned, it's a fantastic, lively dressing room. And what we always emphasise is that cricket is not something that should have a lot of effect on the dressing room. Yes, they are linked, but at the same time it shouldn't be like when you're performing well you have a different dressing room and when you're not the entire scenario changes."
Scoreboard from second ODI between New Zealand and India at Seddon Park, Hamilton:
M Guptill c Shami b Raina 44
J Ryder c Dhoni b Shami 20
K Williamson st Dhoni b Jadeja 77
R Taylor c Dhoni b Shami 57
C Anderson c Dhawan b Sharma 44
B McCullum c & b Shami 0
L Ronchi not out 18
N McCullum b Kumar 1
K Mills not out 2
Extras (lb 1, wd 7) 8
Total (for 7 wickets, 42 overs) 271
Fall: 25, 114, 174, 248, 250, 251, 252.
Bowling: B Kumar 7-1-43-1, M Shami 7-0-55-3 (2w), I Sharma 6-0-46-1 (4w), R Jadeja 8-0-46-1, V Kohli 2-0-12-0, R Ashwin 8-0-50-0 (1w), S Raina 4-0-18-1.
S Dhawan b Southee 12
R Sharma c Ronchi b Southee 20
V Kohli c sub (Devcich) b Southee 78
A Rahane c Ronchi b McClenaghan 36
M Dhoni c Williamson b Anderson 56
S Raina c Southee b Mills 35
R Jadeja b Anderson 12
R Ashwin c Guptill b Southee 5
B Kumar c McCullum b Anderson 11
M Shami not out 1
I Sharma not out 1
Extras (lb 3, wd 7) 10
Total (for 9 wickets, 41.3 overs) 277
Fall: 22, 37, 127, 164, 226, 257, 259, 265, 275.
Bowling: K Mills 9-1-50-1, M McClenaghan 8-1-45-1 (1w), T Southee 9-0-72-4 (1w), N McCullum 8-0-40-0 (3w), C Anderson 7.3-0-67-3 (2w).
Result: New Zealand won by 15 runs (Duckworth-Lewis method), lead five-match series 2-0.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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