New Zealand may be 1-0 down in the Trans-Tasman Test series, but the team's coach Mike Hesson believes his side scored a significant psychological victory over Australia with their remarkable comeback to take the innings lead at the WACA Ground.
Australia were cruising at 416 for the loss of just two wickets at the end of the first day's play and, after posting a total of 559, had New Zealand 6 for 1 when Mitchell Starc claimed the early wicket of Martin Guptill. But a double-century from a rejuvenated Ross Taylor, and a majestic hundred from Kane Williamson hauled New Zealand back into the game. Until lunch on the final day, any result seemed possible.
Steven Smith waited until 11 overs after lunch to declare, leaving New Zealand requiring a near impossible 321 runs from 48 overs on a deteriorating pitch to claim victory. There is a strong feeling in the New Zealand camp that Smith's conservative declaration was a sign of respect Australia had grown for their opponents after the first Test in Brisbane, which was a far more one-sided affair,
"I think we do [gain a psychological advantage] and we gain some confidence from the way the game evolved today", Hesson said."If Australia didn't rate us highly then the game could have unfolded quite differently than the way it did. I thought we were very good with the ball this morning and we'll certainly gain lot confidence from that.
"It showed that when we're on song we're certainly equal, if not better than our opposition. We just need to do that, particularly with the ball, for longer periods of time."
New Zealand have not suffered a series defeat since losing 2-0 to England in 2013 and are determined to extend that streak by securing the win in Adelaide.Hesson insists that maintaining the streak is "absolutely" a motivation, although it is not discussed.
"It doesn't need to be", he said. "It's something we're very proud of as a team. To scrap the way we did after day one today shows continuation of character we've shown for a long time. You find out a bit about people when you're under a bit of adversity. Think we found that out of the last four days."
Hesson was particularly pleased with the improvement in the performance New Zealand's bowlers, who were exposed as underdone in the first Test at the Gabba, where the much vaunted new-ball pairing of Trent Boult and Tim Southee failed to make an impact.
"I think that's something we really need to make improvements on in the third Test because that's a real strength of ours and we haven't been able to put Australia's top-order under pressure enough," Hesson said.
"We put a lot of good sides under pressure when we get our own shop in order. That is probably going to be our main focus. I think we know that if we get it right and get the ball swinging we can run through any side in the world."
New Zealand will play a two-day match against Western Australia at the WACA in preparation for the third Test, using the pink ball, ahead of the day-night match in Adelaide. They will use the opportunity to look at the balance of the bowling attack and assess the form of players with the unfamiliar ball.
But while the final make-up of the side will be decided after assessing the Adelaide pitch, it seems likely New Zealand will stick with Mark Craig, despite the offspinner finishing the second Test with match figures of 3 for 204.
Left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner, who is also a handy lower-order batsman, has a broken little finger on his bowling hand, but could play wearing a splint if conditions call for a second spin option. But Hesson emphasised his support for the under-siege Craig.
"Mark has been a really influential member for us for the past year and a half, and Australia is a tough place to bowl spin", he said. "If you look at the stats there have been some high-quality spinners that haven't done very well over here, and there's no doubt Mark has been put under pressure. But what we've seen from him time and time again is that he has actually fought back for us.
"We'll look at the surface in Adelaide and we'll see how much grass is on it and look at the balance of the side. But he's certainly an integral member of our side, batting at No.8 and scoring valuable runs and grabbing a few catches at second slip. He's highly likely to play in Adelaide.
"When you get put under pressure you start to be a little bit more deliberate in how you do things. Spin-bowling, like many things, is about being able to relax and let it unfold. Once you get going and get a couple of wickets you get that confidence and get through the crease a little bit better. That's something you can't really get at practice, you need to get it out in the middle."
The prospect of the series being decided in such experimental circumstances does not appear to bother Hesson. The vagaries of the pink ball can hardly be greater than those of the red Kookaburra balls that had to be changed with alarming regularity at the WACA.
"Well, we had plenty of issues with the red ball in this one," Hesson said. "It is what it is. We're delighted to be playing the first day-night game. It's an exciting time, going to be a big crowd. Who knows? In five years' time it could be the norm.
"We're heading to Adelaide, third Test, big game for us. We will make the most of the situation, rather than worrying about what colour the ball is."