New Zealand fast bowler Tim Southee has credited India for their ever improving performances in away matches saying to beat them, teams have to be on their top game. The two teams are currently squaring off in a five-match T20I series in New Zealand with the Virat Kohli-led India leading 2-0 after winning the opening two matches in Auckland.

The first game turned out to be a high-scoring affair which the tourists won with an over to spare. However, in the second T20I on Sunday, India outclassed their hosts on a difficult pitch for batting.

“India have played well,” Southee said on the eve of their third T20I to be in Hamilton. “They’re a great side and they’re full of world-class players. The first game is the one that slightly got away on us but we were certainly outplayed in the second game. We know it’s always tough when you play against India and they’re becoming a better and better side away from home as well. We know we need to be on top of our game if we need to beat India.”

Southee is banking on change of venue to work for his team as New Zealand fight to keep the series alive at Seddon Park on Wednesday. “Change of venue should help us. We need to win this game but I think it goes back to what we need to do as a group. Focus on how we prepare today and if we play the way that we know this team can play then I’m sure the result will take care of itself,” he said.

The 31-year-old though said New Zealand have learnt their lessons from the first two matches and expects a much improved show come Wednesday. “The guys would have learnt from the first two games. The first one got away from us. We should have defended that. We can’t sort look over our shoulders. We need to look ahead to this game and hopefully keep the series alive going forward.”

With India winning both the matches while batting second, Kane Williamson will be hoping to win toss again and this time field first unlike what he did in the second match.

Southee though defended Williamson’s decision to bat first despite knowing India’s strength. “Decisions are based around what we think the surface is best to do. We thought it was best to bat first in those first two games. I don’t think we did it overly well in the second game. The first game we should have been able to defend that. Whatever you do, you just got to do it well,” he said.

Of what he expects from the Seddon Park pitch, Southee, who has 77 wickets from 68 T20Is, said, “It’s usually a good surface when you turn up for white-ball cricket. Another small ground so I’m looking forward to another typical Seddon Park wicket. It comes back to the nature of the surface. If they are reactive to cutters and what not, then you use them more.”

Shreyas Iyer has been the common thread in both of India’s successful chase on the tour. He scored an unbeaten 58 in chase of 204 in the series opener before hitting 44 in a tricky chase in second T20I. “I think you have initial plans for some of the guys who haven’t seen a lot of. And he’s (Iyer) come in and played with freedom. He’s got a great start to the series. He’s obviously full of confidence,” Southee said of Iyer.

He added, “As I say, in this Indian side, there’s not one or two guys but the whole side who have quality, not only with the bat but with the ball as well. Those tactics might change as the series goes on as you see more of the players.”