New Zealand pacer Tim Southee, who has dismissed Virat Kohli the most number of times in international cricket, credited helpful pitch conditions for the feat. Including Saturday’s second One-Day International in Auckland, Southee has now dismissed Kohli nine times across formats.

“He is obviously a class player and doesn’t have many weaknesses. I think the wicket had a little bit of assistance with the new ball and if you put it in the right areas, there was enough there to ask a few questions. It is about assistance and the pitch conditions...,” Southee said on the eve of the third ODI in Mount Maunganui on Wednesday.

“It is your job to take wickets... And Virat is a great player and he has been in great form. Especially in run chases he is exceptional, so I guess it’s always nice to see the back of him. I didn’t know that was the most...” he added.

Southee played with a stomach bug in the second ODI but led the bowling attack bravely. He bowled Kohli with a sharp in-swinger. The pacer seems to have recovered from his illness, while New Zealand have been further bolstered by Kane Williamson’s return from injury.

“It was pretty tough but you have made the commitment to play. So you have to crack on and not leave your teammates hanging. Try to do a job for the guys. It was just a 24-hour bug and couple of friends had it,” he said, trying to make light of his problem.

Despite missing vital stars like Williamson, Trent Boult and Lockie Ferguson, the hosts have etched out a 2-0 lead in the series.

Southee said his side’s win over India in the current three-match series shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone as the Black Caps, consecutive ODI World Cup finalists, have been playing well in this format for a while now.

“They have been two great games of cricket and the ODI side has played some good cricket for a while even though we have been missing some important guys,” he said referring to injuries to key players such as regular skipper Williamson.

“The guys have played great ODI cricket for a while now, although it was our first time since the World Cup. But the group has played well for a long time,” he added.

He added that it was a good sign of the pace wares as well as a domestic structure that threw up player-of-the-match debutant Kyle Jamieson in the time of need.

“It is a pleasing sign of the environment as well. Kyle came up and played well on his debut, he was comfortable coming in than most people,” he added.

India hadn’t lost an ODI bilateral series in almost a year, and their previous loss in New Zealand was back in 2013-14. Southee said the hosts were mindful of the statistic but needed to concentrate on what they do best.

When asked about if he would prefer bowler-friendly pitches for the upcoming Test series, Southee replied, “We always want pitches for the bowlers. Yeah I guess that’s our focus after the ODIs, we will turn to the Tests. It is nice to see a little bit of assistance for the bowlers.”

(With inputs from PTI)