New Zealand head to Nottingham for the second test against England with pride wounded and their World Test Championship (WTC) campaign on a knife-edge after a deflating loss at Lord’s.
Less than a year after beating India at the same venue to claim the inaugural WTC trophy, New Zealand’s five-wicket defeat on Sunday left them seventh in the standings and another setback at Trent Bridge could prove terminal for their title defence.
The Black Caps could do with all hands on deck to turn things around, but are unlikely to have all-rounder Collin de Grandhomme available for the match starting Friday after he suffered a heel injury while bowling on day three.
New Zealand have options to cover De Grandhomme’s pace bowling but may miss his lower order batting.
The Black Caps’ problems are higher up the order, though.
The top four produced only 50 runs at Lord’s, with captain Kane Williamson’s long-awaited return from a troublesome elbow injury falling flat with scores of two and 15.
The opening combination of Tom Latham and Will Young has become a problem. Neither batsman has scored more than 15 runs in a knock in their last three tests.
Even with those deficiencies, New Zealand had the match in their hands on day three at 250 for four, only to lose their last six wickets for 34 runs and pave the way for century-maker Joe Root to guide England to an unlikely win.
New Zealand head north to Nottingham with some positives, with middle order batsman Daryl Mitchell (108) and wicketkeeper Tom Blundell (96) having combined for a majestic 195-run stand in the third innings.
Selectors will hope Henry Nicholls has recovered from his calf injury and can add steel to the top order.
Yet it will take more than a few cameo performances to turn the series around for a team that has struggled to consistently play as a unit since their unlikely WTC triumph last June.