New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum on Wednesday said his team delivered at "key times" under pressure during their 15-run victory (via D/L method) against India in the second cricket one-dayer in Hamilton to take a 2-0 lead in the series.
It was again the near-perfect game for the Black Caps where they built on a solid platform provided by Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor in the middle-order, and then Corey Anderson launched an all-out assault at the death. (Read: India lose numero uno status in ODI rankings)
New Zealand followed it up with a disciplined performance with the ball, getting key wickets when it mattered the most. (Match pics)
"I thought under pressure, against a very good Indian batting line-up, we delivered at key times. It's big from a confidence point of view. We have just got to challenge now to put it together again in a few days' time," McCullum said at the post-match press conference. (Read: India's overseas record going from bad to worse)
India made a valiant effort to overhaul the revised target of 297 in 42 overs in a rain-truncated game but failed to cross the finishing line scoring 277 for nine in 41.3 overs. The Duckworth-Lewis par score in 41.3 overs was 293.
McCullum praised his batsmen for setting up the win with a competitive total against a packed Indian batting line-up.
"I am really pleased with the way we constructed our innings again. It was mainly through the partnership of Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor. Martin Guptill played his hand as well and again they gave us the platform from where to launch in the death overs. And whilst the game was shortened, we were still in a nice position to do so. The batting blueprint was again executed tonight, which was encouraging obviously," he said.
While the Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni blamed his openers for not converting their starts, his counterpart was of the opinion that early wickets played a vital role in setting up the win for New Zealand.
"Ideally you want to take wickets up front and that's where we spend our resources, trying to attack early on knowing how important wickets are to the confidence of a team chasing.
"We weren't able to take early wickets but we did the next best thing which is to control the run rate. And when you control the run rate, there is pressure on the batsman and the wickets sort of followed after that. I thought it was a pretty good performance from us with the ball under pressure," he said.
McCullum said the wickets of Virat Kohli and Dhoni proved crucial who again anchored a spirited run-chase for the second time in two games. Both made fifties but could not save India from the defeat.
"We continue to learn that Kohli and Dhoni are very, very good players. They are obviously very good at how to construct a run chase. It's quite important to try and take wickets knowing that if you can remove one of those two, it goes a long way towards nullifying their chase," he said.
"They are a very good team. There are not too many teams around the world where you head in at half-time in a 42-over game with 300 on the board and you know that you still have to scrap pretty hard with the ball and in the field. Against this team, we know that's the case and thankfully we got it done under pressure today," he added.
Anderson was one of the main attractions for the Kiwis, once again setting up their total with 44 runs off only 17 balls, and then taking 3-67 during the Indian chase.
McCullum said the all-rounder gave the side a much-needed momentum to help them reach the "big score".
"Obviously his batting was brilliant again. He is such a clean striker and given that license, he can be incredibly damaging. With the ball, he did not start that well. One of the things we are trying to do is to ensure that you keep giving guys opportunities even though they may not start well but you need to keep coming back them. Otherwise they will never get the opportunity to learn either.
"So that's one thing that we are pretty keen on, still allowing him to have that opportunity under pressure at the end there to really stand up and show how he can operate under pressure. I thought he did that really well. I think he learnt quite a lot with the ball in hand today," he said.
McCullum also praised pacer Tim Southee, who picked up 4-72, including his 100th ODI wicket in 76 matches.
"It was a really good performance and it is a nice milestone for him to celebrate. His career so far has been a little bit stop-start but he has shown that when he is fit and bowling well, how important he is to our side. He is a strong leader too within the bowling group for quite a young guy.
"It's nice to see him get some personal satisfaction with knocking off that milestone today. I thought his performance was really good for us and set us up quite nicely and in a different role too, bowling at first-change."