New Zealand spinner Mitchell Santner feels his team’s inability to take wickets in the middle overs has proved costly in the ongoing One-day International series against India. The hosts will be aiming to reverse the trend in the fourth game in Hamilton on Thursday.

Thoroughly outplayed in the first three ODIs, New Zealand will play for pride in the remaining two matches. “I think the plans have been pretty solid maybe the execution’s been off at times,” Santner said. “We need to get two wickets in the top 10 [overs], or even the first five,” he added.

“Every game they’ve got off to good starts, we haven’t seen much of their back end. The key for us is to keep taking wickets through the middle; keep being aggressive,” he said.

New Zealand batting also looked clueless against India’s bowling attack, managing to post a 200 plus score only once. “With the bat, it’s trying to build those partnerships throughout. We saw a good one between Ross [Taylor] and Tom [Latham] last game, then we lost a couple and we fell over a bit. They’ve bowled very well in the top 10 and we haven’t really got away.

“If we can get through the first 10 [overs] with wickets in hand, then set up the back-end where we’ve got some power hitters, we can get to a pretty good total.”

Talking about Indian spinners, who have run through the New Zealand batting order at will, Santner said: “They are bowling very well at the moment. The slower pace that they bowl is tending to get a little bit more out of the wicket than guys like myself and Ish (Sodhi) who bowl a little bit quicker.

“But that pressure is also being built off the back of the starts we have had [with the bat] – we have always been two down after ten [overs], allowing them to settle into their work.”