Fired-up New Zealand are confident they can secure a third successive victory against powerful India in Auckland today and wrap up the one-day international series with two matches to spare.
The tourists arrived in New Zealand top of the world rankings, but were beaten by 24 runs in the series opener in Napier and went down by 15 runs under the Duckworth-Lewis method in Hamilton.
The back-to-back losses have cost India their top ranking — taken by Australia — while a win for New Zealand in Auckland would lift the hosts above the West Indies and into seventh place.
“That’s two of the best team performances we’ve had for a long time and to back it up game after game is what good sides do,” senior bowler Tim Southee said.
The New Zealand blueprint calls for the team to go into the final 15 overs with seven wickets in hand.
It means Jesse Ryder and Martin Guptill can charge at the start of the innings, leaving Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor to consolidate before unleashing the big-hitting Corey Anderson, Brendon McCullum and Luke Ronchi.
The bowlers have a licence to attack, and while it may cost them runs it does produce wickets, particularly with India’s senior batsmen struggling against short-pitched deliveries.
Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has said that in Wednesday’s second game in Hamilton, the lack of a good start to the innings from openers Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma cost his team.
“The openers should have carried on for a bit longer, played a few more shots and scored a few more runs,” he said.
Virat Kohli, coming in at first wicket down, is the danger man for India, with scores of 123 and 78 in the first two games.