Blackcaps v Australia: Jimmy Neesham backed to rebound from horror performance in NZ loss

All-rounder Jimmy Neesham has come crashing to earth, after emerging as a special hero of the Blackcaps' nailbiting T20 victory over Australian in Dunedin last week.

Six days after bowling New Zealand home against the trans-Tasman rivals, Neesham has been plundered for 28 runs in one over, as his side fell 65 runs short of sealing their five-match series in Wellington.

With Australia poised for a charge at 153/3 after 16 overs, Glenn Maxwell climbed into his counterpart for two sixes and four fours to provide the matchwinning impetus, as his team set a target of 210 runs - a total the home side never remotely challenged, as they failed to build partnerships.

Neesham's cruel fate illustrated the difference between the two sides, with almost a week since their last meeting. In Dunedin, he smashed an unbeaten 45 with the bat, and dismissed Daniel Sams and Marcus Stoinis with the ball, as they seemingly edged their side closer to victory.

This time, he conceded 60 runs off his four overs and suffered a first-ball duck.

"Any time you feel like you've let your teammates down and you've let your country down... but it can be such a fine line in this game," reflects Blackcaps veteran Tim Southee.

"We saw last week, he was a matchwinner for us and he is a matchwinner for us. I think he'll bounce back in the next couple of days.

"The beauty of it is we can have another crack in a couple of days to put the wrongs right. He's shown he's a quality player with bat and ball - he's had an off day today, but that can happen in this format.

"He'll be chomping at the bit to get back out there and I don't think just one bad day undoes the work he's done for a period of time now."

If nothing else, this series illustrates the swings and roundabouts that plague even the world's best players in cricket's shortest form.

World-class batsmen like Martin Guptill and Aaron Finch have struggled for runs, then broken out of slumps, with the Aussie captain striking 69 off 44 balls in his team's winning effort.

Neesham was one of three victims in one over from Aussie spin bowler Ashton Agar, who finished with a career-best 6/30 in a man-of-the-match performance. Agar hadn't taken a  wicket in the previous two encounters.

Southee admits the loss of spin-all-rounder Mitch Santner to injury had thrown the Blackcaps line-up off balance. Santner was replaced by Mark Chapman, but skipper Kane Williamson may have relied too heavily on Neesham to bowl his full quote of overs in Santner's absence.

"If you look back, on reflection, it would have been nice to have another bowler," says Southee. "But Neesh has done a good job for us with the ball and we were hoping to get a few overs out of him.

"Hindsight's a wonderful thing, but looking back, we probably were [a bowler short]."

Australia had walked straight out of 14-day quarantine and into the series opener at Christchurch, looking short of a gallop and off the pace. They were much better in Dunedin and even better with six more days to find their feet.

After such a comprehensive victory and with the next two matches scheduled for the same venue, Sky Stadium suddenly looms as an Australian fortress, as the tourists try to save a series that seemed beyond their grasp a week ago.

Join us on Friday for live updates of the fourth Blackcaps v Australia T20