Kane Williamson has said that New Zealand needed to be better at "sucking up pressure" with the bat and learn to play a smarter game after they crashed to a 159-run defeat in Wellington.
Their innings lasted just 32.2 overs with Colin de Grandhomme's unbeaten 34 the top score. The openers fell cheaply, and though Williamson and Ross Taylor tried to mount a recovery they were squeezed by some challenging bowling from Andile Phehlukwayo and Dwaine Pretorius, whose combined nine overs in their opening spells claimed four wickets for 16 runs.
"Restricting them to 270 was not a bad effort, but going into that second innings they were able to exploit the conditions and made life difficult," Williamson said. "It probably showed that it was a tough score to chase, but as a batting unit, we want to be better at sucking up that pressure. Not only did they extract movement but they put the ball in the right area the whole time.
"If we were smarter with the bat, soaked up pressure for a period and cashed in at the back end, we would have been far better off. A disappointing performance from us, but we do need to move on quickly."
Williamson highlighted that the drop-in surface at the Westpac also made it difficult to rotate strike, which helped bowlers build the pressure.
"When you can use the pace of the ball you can rotate that strike, get momentum and the game can take a different shape," he said. "They were able to bowl tightly then, when the ball does stop because there's no block to work with, you can soak up pressure and feel like you're not going anywhere.
"That's how Ross and I felt in those middle stages. It was similar to how they played, a lot of dots but if you go bang-bang, the run rate catches up. It wasn't an easy surface but wasn't a bad one either."
Either side of the solid batting performance in the second ODI in Christchurch, New Zealand have put in an indifferent top-order display in Hamilton, where they slipped to 82 for 4, and an awful one in Wellington. They will name their squad for the final two matches on Sunday morning with Martin Guptill returning from hamstring injuries, and will have to make a decision on Tom Latham following a third duck in six ODI innings. If he is dropped, New Zealand will need to make room for Luke Ronchi as wicketkeeper.
While Guptill's return is assured, Williamson was non-committal about Latham. An issue the selectors will have to consider is that Latham is one of the Test openers and he may be better off stepping away from the one-day side to try and get himself prepared for red-ball cricket.
"Tom works hard like all of us to get more runs, he's been unlucky with some dismissals, found some fielders, and that's very much nature of the game," Williamson said. "He's up against a good attack as well."