Blackcaps coach Gary Stead has blasted his side for failing to fire a shot in a disappointing batting performance during the fourth T20 at Sky Stadium in Wellington.
Set an above-par 156 for victory on a surprisingly spin-friendly and slow wicket, the Kiwi batsmen crumbled to be dismissed for a timid 106, with only Kyle Jamieson putting up any resistance when it was far too late.
For the second time running, the batsmen have let the side down and Stead is frustrated at the approach they took in the difficult chase.
"The disappointing thing for me is, I don't think we really fired a shot at them tonight and when Kyle came in and played the way he did it was too late, the game was already gone," Stead said. "We need to think about how we do that earlier.
"I think in those situations when it is tough and that was a very good score they had, then you have to try and get ahead of the game and ahead of the run-rate if you can.
"That provides a bit more of an opportunity for the middle order to figure out how to play it."
A clearly frustrated and downcast Blackcaps coach was disappointed his side took their foot off the gas and let their rivals back into the series.
"It's that intent to hit boundaries, get on the front foot and even running between wickets," he said. "I thought we took a step backwards from where we had been in this series and there are some controllable things we can do better and I know we'll do better."
In a batting lineup stacked with talent, only three players reached double figures on a pitch that will be similar to what will be found at the T20 world cup in India in October and November, which is a real cause for concern.
"T20 cricket can change very quickly, we just need to get clear on the options we are going to play and how we are going to play each of their bowlers," Stead said. "You have to imagine spin will play a major part but in the big picture of things, it's good we get exposed to this now as we got a world cup further down the track.
"We are going to play on some wickets that are challenging and tough to play on so I think for us we'll have a chat around it and you have to move on quickly as we have a game in two days, but we have to get really clear on the way we are going to play."
One key difference between the sides was Australia were able to bowl 11 overs of spin compared to the Blackcaps' eight, with Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi once again effective in tandem.
"I know Kane was thinking about [bowling] himself and Glenn Phillips but just felt the matchup wasn't right with Aaron Finch still at the wicket. It's an option for us that we’ve got to keep exploring.
After two poor performances, all eyes will be on what Stead and Williamson decide to do with the lineup for the series decider, with Wellington Firebirds quick Hamish Bennett and batsman Mark Chapman options to come in.
"I haven't actually thought about it at this stage but Kane and I will have a chat on Saturday when we debrief the game and talk about what we want our options to be in that final game."
In what was already a sour night, senior bowler Tim Southee has been reprimanded and earned a demerit point for 'shouting at the umpire in a disrespectful manner’.
The incident occurred in the first over of the match on Wednesday, when Southee shouted at the umpire in a disrespectful manner after a leg before wicket review taken against Australia opener Aaron Finch was declared an umpire’s call and given not out.
When a player reaches four or more demerit points within a 24-month period, they are converted into suspension points and a player is banned.
Southee's disciplinary record was clean before the incident with Wednesday's indiscression being his first offence in a 24-month period.
The Blackcaps will welcome back a rowdy home crowd after the previous two matches were played in COVID-19 level 2 conditions with no crowd.
Join us for live updates of the fifth T20 between the Blackcaps and Australia from Sunday 12pm.