New Zealand look to wrap up India ODI series
Bhuvneshwar Kumar of India (R) fields as New Zealand's Jessie Ryder bats during the second one day international cricket match at Seddon Park in Hamilton on January 22, 2014 - by Michael Bradley
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. They perform consistently and that's where we're aiming to be," said senior bowler Tim Southee.
"We've showed glimpses in the past but we needed consistency. It's not just individuals standing up, it's everyone standing up at different times. That's the sign of a good side, not relying on the same people every game."
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 his side will not shelve the troublesome hook shot and suggested 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.
"He's one of the best, if not the best one-day player going around. In the first two games he adapted to conditions quickly and we know we've got our work cut out," said Southee.
Taylor issued a simple tweet on how the New Zealanders felt about the Indian star: "Anyone got any ideas on how to get Kohli out before he gets to 50?"