The second T20I between New Zealand and India started with Martin Guptill smashing a couple of sixes in the first over off Shardul Thakur, triggering fears of yet another run-fest.
The two teams had played at the same venue, the Eden Park in Auckland, two days earlier when 407 runs were scored in 39 overs, India emerging winners. The trend looked set to continue with New Zealand plundering 13 in the first over on Sunday.
However, that wasn't to be. India's bowlers showed tremendous adjustment in quick time, learning from their experience in the previous game and coming out on top, restricting New Zealand to just 132 for 5 in 20 overs.
The Eden Park is an oddly shaped ground, almost resembling a hectagon with a few boundaries measuring under 50 metres. It's not a shape that Indians are naturally used to, and it showed in the first game where they conceded 203 runs. Barring Jasprit Bumrah and Yuzvendra Chahal, all the bowlers had leaked runs. Their natural instinct of bowling full, especially in the death, had cost them as New Zealand batsmen capitalised on the short straight boundaries.
With just one day gap between the two matches, India adapted to the conditions far better, altering their lengths and pace.
The bowlers who showed most improvement were Mohammed Shami and Ravindra Jadeja. on Friday, Shami struggled to nail his yorkers and instead bowled length balls at hittable pace; he was carted around for 53 runs in 4 overs. Here, he gave only 22 from his quota, adjusting to back-of-length brilliantly.
Despite the off-day on Friday, India trusted Shami to bowl the tough overs. He opened with Thakur and bowled two overs inside the Power Play, conceding only 14. Colin Munro in particular was struggling, scoring only 7 runs in his first 10 balls as New Zealand managed only 48 in the Power Play. Shami had much better control over his lengths, and even hit Kane Williamson on the helmet with a surprise quick bouncer.
Jadeja had bowled only two overs on Friday, conceding 18 runs and picking up one wicket. He was not used much as New Zealand had left-handed Munro in the middle till the 12th over. Only after he was dismissed was Jadeja brought on.
Munro's relatively earlier dismissal, and the slightly slow nature of the pitch, allowed India to use more of Jadeja this time. He tasted success immediately, getting Colin de Grandhomme to chip a return catch in just his second ball.
The dismissal put doubts in New Zealand's mind, as the ball gripped and turned a little. New Zealand became tentative against spin, Williamson struggling to even rotate strike during his knock of 14 from 20. The pressure resulted in him slogging Jadeja to the deep, and the left-arm spinner bowled four straight overs conceding only 18.
Yuzvendra Chahal, meanwhile, gave only 18 off his first three before conceding 15 in his last.
India's tight control over New Zealand can be seen in one stat - there was no boundary scored between overs 8.3 and 15.3. There wasn't much power hitting in the death overs as well, New Zealand scoring only 23 in the last four.
While the likes of Shami and Jadeja showed improvement from Friday, Jasprit Bumrah continued to do his thing silently, conceding only 21 from his four overs including a six in the final over. Bumrah had done a brilliant job the previous game too, taking no time to adjust to new conditions. There was little surprise that he was on top of his game this match too.
The only bowler who would perhaps go back disappointed is Thakur, who conceded 21 from 2 overs. His place could be under the scanner as Navdeep Saini is waiting in the wings, but Thakur too tasted success with the big wicket of Martin Guptill, and bowled the tough overs - the first and last overs of the Power Play.
Kohli recognised the bowlers' improvement, lauding them for setting up the seven wicket win.
"I think we backed it up with another good performance today especially with the ball. The bowlers stood up and took control," he said in the post-match presentation. "I think the lines and lengths we bowled today, sticking to one side of the wicket and being sure of what we wanted to bowl. It was a very good feature for us as team. That helped us restrict a strong side like New Zealand to such a low total. I think the pitch was good enough for a score of 160 in the first innings. We understood the angles of the field better, how the pitch was playing, how the New Zealand batsmen were approaching. We had to make a few changes and I had to think on my feet as a captain. I think Jadeja was outstanding, once again Chahal was a banker. Bumrah was amazing as well."
Overall, if it was the batting and the middle order in the first game, it was bowlers in the second who set up victory and ensured India kept ticking boxes in the lead up to the T20 World Cup.