Daniel Vettori, the New Zealand captain, has criticised his batsmen for squandering a bright start to be bowled out for a below-par score and concede the Chappell-Hadlee trophy to Australia. New Zealand lost their third consecutive game to surrender the series after winning the opening fixture.
"Unfortunately, [we made] the same mistakes as the previous two games," Vettori said. "We did not put enough runs on the board, lost wickets at crucial times and put ourselves under far too much pressure. When you do that against Australia, you get yourself in trouble and that's what happened today."
New Zealand, after being put in, blazed away to an attacking start, courtesy Brendon McCullum and Martin Guptill, but lost steam in the middle overs to be eventually bowled out for 238 in the 45th over. "If you look at most of the dismissals, they were relatively soft dismissals," Vettori said. "They just made poor mistakes and whether it is the mental shift from aggressiveness to accumulation, I'm not too sure. But they're mistakes that shouldn't have been made constantly and they have been made in the last three games."
The hosts lost six wickets for 57 runs in close to 19 overs after their positive start, and were rescued by Daryl Tuffey's quickfire 34, which included four sixes, and support from the lower order. But Vettori rued the fact that his team - not for the first time in the series - failed to bat out its entire quota of covers. "That just hurts you," Vettori said. "We took a gamble again with the Powerplay, with so many wickets down and have a crack. I thought the way Daryl played, we might get 500 but at the end we were pretty poor.
"We knew we were under a par score, and we had to be aggressive and take a chance because if we kept going the way we were, we wouldn't even have had a total to defend. So we took a chance, it looks when it works and bad when it doesn't."
The rain interruption did provide New Zealand with a lifeline, for Australia were left to chase a revised target of 200 in 34 overs. Vettori had been critical of the Duckworth-Lewis system at the end of the second ODI, where a revised target made New Zealand's chase more difficult. But, today, he admitted the system had handed his team an opportunity.
"It's a funny system," Vettori said. "I said at the end of the second game that I didn't quite understand it, but it gave us an opportunity. I suppose we put some pressure on with the ball, but we couldn't maintain it from both ends and that hurts against Australia."
New Zealand head to Wellington for the fifth and final ODI and Vettori said Nathan McCullum, the offspinner, was likely to be given a go. "We'll definitely look at Nathan McCullum coming into it," he said. "Westpac is a bigger ground and it allows Nathan to come into the mix a little more, but we want to end the series on a high. 3-2 is not a result we wanted but it would be a start on the road to improvement, hopefully."