Three wickets in the first ten overs is great, but five in the first 20 is usually a match-defining passage of play. New Zealand dismissed three of Sri Lanka's top four inside the powerplay in the third ODI in Hamilton, and then got two of their middle-order batters before the 18th over was completed too, leaving the opposition at 70 for 5 - a predicament from which the visitors would never seriously recover.
Will Young, New Zealand's best batter on the evening with a contribution of an unbeaten 86 in a successful chase of 158, felt that was the case too.
"In one-day cricket, there's an old adage that if you take three wickets in the first ten, you're doing pretty well, and they took four or five in the first spell or two," Young said of the New Zealand seamers. "They were incredible. The way they hit their lengths, [and] got the ball to talk in the air and off the wicket was really impressive."
New Zealand's quicks moved the ball beautifully in their opening spells, with each of the first three wickets coming off edges behind the stumps. Then, Daryl Mitchell got two middle-order wickets by getting the ball to bounce more than the batters had expected, and finished with one more wicket.
But Matt Henry was the standout quick, taking 3 for 14 from his ten overs, even as Henry Shipley got three wickets too, to go with the five he had got in the first ODI in Auckland.
"For Shippo to do that in one of his first series is testament to the form he's in," Young said. "For Matt Henry, it seems like an extension of his red-ball form at the moment. He's hitting the same areas, and it's awesome to see."
Although Sri Lanka had won the toss and chosen to bat first, New Zealand captain Tom Latham had said at the toss that he would have bowled first anyway. New Zealand had had a solid slip cordon in the early overs, and then used the short ball effectively, as their tall bowlers consistently extracted more bounce from the surface than Sri Lanka's batters could contend with.
"The best way to stop the run rate in one-day cricket is by taking wickets," Young said. "I think Tom Latham did a great job in summarising the conditions early, [by] getting fielders in the right positions, and trusting that the ball will go to those attacking fielders - those slips, those gullies. They used the short ball as well. The bowlers and Tommy were singing from the same sheet."
However, New Zealand had had to see out a tough new-ball spell of their own, with Young, batting at No. 3, having to come in to bat in the second over, and then seeing his team sink to 21 for 3, which soon became 59 for 4. But he then forged an undefeated 100-run stand for the fifth wicket with Henry Nicholls, and New Zealand sauntered to the target in the 33rd over.
"It was a bit more nerve-racking a bit later, when we were three or four down," Young said. "But one of the great things about this team is that we bat deep, so I had full confidence in the boys, that we'd get the job done. And it happened to be Henry that I established a bit of a partnership with.
"It can be quite a tricky time to bat, in that twilight period. We saw that if you hit the strings - and hit a good length - it's going to be challenging at times. We found exactly that when the Sri Lankans got the ball in the right area: there was a bit of swing early, the ball certainly nipped around and there was a little bit of bounce too. Conditions were tough at times, but we managed to absorb that to get the job done."