Pacer Tim Southee made a telling blow to India's chances in the second ODI in Auckland on Saturday (February 8) by dismissing opposition captain and best batsman Virat Kohli.
Southee's terrific unchanged first spell, despite battling a stomach bug, helped New Zealand clinch victory by 22 runs and seal the three-match series with an unassailable 2-0 lead.
Dislodging Kohli, the veteran quick also became the bowler to have taken the wicket of Indian great the most number of times in international cricket.
However, the modest pacer refused to be drawn into talks that he has exposed a chink in Kohli's armoury and credited a "bit of assistance" from the deck at Eden Park for his success against the mighty right-hander.
"He (Kohli) is obviously a class player and doesn't have many weaknesses," Southee told reporters ahead of the third and final ODI at Bay Oval on Tuesday (February 9). "I think the wicket had a little bit of assistance with the new ball and if you put it in the right areas, there was enough there to ask a few questions. It is about assistance and the pitch conditions."
"It is your job to take wickets...And Virat is a great player and he has been in great form. Especially in run chases, he is exceptional, so I guess it's always nice to see the back of him. I didn't know that was the most."
Black Caps' success against India in the 50-over version, Southee said, shouldn't surprise anyone considering they also defeated the Men in Blue in the World Cup semi-final last year.
"They have been two great games of cricket and the ODI side has played some good cricket for a while even though we have been missing some important guys," mentioned 31-year-old with the Kiwis missing some of their key players because of injuries, including regular captain Kane Williamson and first-choice pacers Trent Boult, Lockie Ferguson.
"The guys have played great ODI cricket for a while now, although it was our first time since the World Cup. But the group has played well for a long time," he added.
Apart from Southee, debutant Kyle Jamieson also delivered a fine spell, which the former says is a reflection of a strong domestic scene that the Kiwis have. "It is a pleasing sign of the environment as well. Kyle came up and played well on his debut, he was comfortable coming in than most people," he said, feeling inspired by his teammates on the day.
"It was pretty tough but you have made the commitment to play. So you have to crack on and not leave your teammates hanging. Try to do a job for the guys. It was just a 24-hour bug and a couple of friends had it."
Different ground dimension and flat pitch at Bay Oval will continue to test the resolve of all bowlers. "It is part and parcel of playing in New Zealand," Southee said. "You have to adapt to different grounds, some are cricket grounds, and some are rugby grounds. It is about adapting to different challenges and adapting to surfaces as well as grounds."
"It is the same with cricket (everywhere), you have different soils and pitches, obviously different sizes and dimensions at most grounds across the world. So as cricketers it is something you just have to adapt to," he concluded.
(Inputs from PTI)