India have the Black Caps in a spin, and they need to turn back the clock if they're to have any chance of claiming a series victory.
In their two ODI defeats, the Black Caps have been unable to overcome the legspin of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal, with the pair combining for 12 wickets at an average of just 14.9. Throw in the quirky part-time offerings of Kedhar Jadhav, and Indian spinners have produced 14 wickets at 16.5, at an economy rate of just 4.78.
It's a sudden change after the Black Caps dealt to the Sri Lankan spinners with ease in their last ODI series. Granted, the likes of Lakshan Sandakan and Seekkuge Prasanna aren't in the same class as the Indian tweakers, but Sri Lanka's spin options mustered just one wicket in 52 overs across three contests.
The Black Caps batsmen had no issues accumulating against the Sri Lankan slower bowlers either, and that's why coach Gary Stead believes the batsmen's failures against India have largely been a result of poor decision-making, rather than technical deficiencies.
"It's not that we can't play spin bowling, we've just taken some options that haven't been the best options at times," said Stead.
"I have faith in our guys – we played the spin bowling very well against Sri Lanka and they had a lot of spinners as well, so it's not like we can't, we just haven't done it effectively. The two wrist-spinners they have here are very effective bowlers – our challenge is to find a way to be better."
Yadav has been the most dangerous of the lot, and his four wickets in the second ODI reduced New Zealand from 136-4 to 166-8, removing the last three recognised batsmen and effectively sealing the win. So far this series, he has eight scalps at an average of 10.5, and Stead is alert to the need to combat his talents.
"He's a clever bowler – you don't see the left arm legspinner too often. He uses his googly very well, and we have to find a way to combat him. In the first game, after seven overs he was 0-30 and I thought we actually played him pretty well, and maybe we've just got to pull back the throttle a little bit around our scoring and just be happy with 0-45 if we can."
However, that might not be possible, with Indian captain Virat Kohli praising the attacking mindset of his spinners.
"You give them any situation – powerplay, five or four fielders in the ring – they're always ready to bowl for you and take wickets, which is the most important thing. They're always figuring ways to get batsmen out – they don't want to contain runs and [concede] 40 in 10 overs and have no wickets, they would rather go for six an over and get three wickets for the team. I think that's the mindset which is helping them, and the team, and together they're quite lethal."
Jadhav, who has chimed in with two wickets with his off-spinners, agreed.
"Kuldeep and Chahal are one of our key assets in the middle overs. We as a team back them totally – batsmen have to take risks against them, and that works for us."
As a result of the spinners' dominance, the Black Caps have mustered just one half-century partnership this series - achieved by a belated ninth wicket flurry between Doug Bracewell and Lockie Ferguson yesterday.
Stead knows that has to change for his side to have any hope of launching a comeback in the five-match series, which continues with third ODI tomorrow afternoon at Bay Oval.
"We haven't built partnerships across the top six or seven and that was the strength of what we did so well against Sri Lanka. As a batting unit that's going to be our challenge going into the next three games."