Understanding the peculiar dimensions of the grounds and negotiating the wind factor is a must for bowlers to succeed in New Zealand, reckons India pacer Shardul Thakur.
"There are no grounds alike in New Zealand, so it is very important to understand the ground dimensions. How to bowl, etc. In each game, as a bowler, you may have to change your plan because the last game in Auckland, straight boundaries were short. "Before that in Hamilton, the side boundary was short. The dimensions of each ground are different and you have to bowl accordingly. Here in the next game, we will get a bigger ground compared to the others," said Thakur on the eve of the third ODI here on Tuesday.
Thakur feels the conditions make New Zealand one of the toughest places to play cricket in.
"It is very difficult because you don't get to play on grounds like this every day. That's why they say New Zealand is a difficult country to play cricket in. I feel that when you practice in the nets you have to practice in the manner in which you are going to bowl the next day.
"Mentally too, it is crucial to be prepared because if you are not prepared mentally, the opponent can take you by surprise. So both things are important. If you see, their batsmen use the wind and the short side," he added.
Thakur is returning to international cricket after a lengthy break. He was injured on his Test debut and then had to go through the rigours of domestic cricket all over again.
The pacer said he had forgotten about that, but has been continuously working on his fitness and skill to make sure he is always ready for international cricket.
India will be aiming to avoid a 0-3 whitewash on Tuesday and with the series already out of reach, Thakur feels he and his teammates can play even more freely.
"When you play international cricket, every game matters for every player. When you are 2-0 down, you can express yourself even more – our skills, our variations in bowling. Batsmen can play their shots, can execute shots and express themselves. That's how we will approach it."
While India have missed Rohit Sharma, thus weakening the batting order, New Zealand's top-order has been rejuvenated after the T20I series. Ross Taylor has been in-form scoring a hundred and a half-century as New Zealand took a 2-0 lead. Skipper Kane Williamson has recovered his shoulder injury and is set to play in third ODI.
"Thanks for reminding that (Kane) is going to play tomorrow. But yeah, it's okay. Everyone's playing cricket here, I guess. It's no different. I think the opening partnership has been crucial for them. They are building a good partnership, like you said, up front. That's why they are able to set up good scores.
"He (Taylor) is batting really well. Once he is set, he is able to play on the leg-side like he is a God. I think we have to be very precise bowling to him. At times, we have had our chances. In the last two ODIs, he had skied up a few balls and we had chances. Had we grabbed it, the game could have gone anyway."
For India, meanwhile, the lower order has been doing wonders. Thakur said it is the responsibility of the bowlers to contribute with the bat as well, and he pays due attention to this skill.
"When I bat at no. 8, a good 20-30 runs from me are always helpful for the team. I have been trying to do the same. If there is a batsmen at the other end and if No. 8 or 9 can be handy for the team, there is always a difference of 30-40 runs when it comes to play," Thakur added.