Blackcaps v Australia: Chastened NZ side eager to put Twenty20 whitewash behind them as tests loom

Blackcaps allrounder Mitch Santner hopes he and his teammates can quickly put their Twenty20 shortcomings behind them, as they prepare to take on world champions Australia in a two-match test series.

New Zealand have slumped to a disappointing series whitewash in the whiteball format, capped by their 27-run rain-shortened defeat at Eden Park, barely firing a shot, after their thrilling last-ball loss in the opener at Wellington.

With key top-order batters Kane Williams and Daryl Mitchell already sitting out the series, they also lost Rachin Ravindra and Devon Conway to injury before and during the second encounter, leaving a depleted line-up that struggled against the classy Aussie bowling attack.

Ish Sodhi agonises over a dropped catch against Australia.
Ish Sodhi agonises over a dropped catch against Australia. Photo credit: Photosport

The Kiwis have only three days to shrug off that disappointment, before facing the same opponents in a long-awaited home series, beginning Thursday at Wellington's Basin Reserve.

"It's obviously a different format and the boys that weren't here are coming off two wins against South Africa," reflected acting T20 captain Santner. "I know it was a different South African team and we're coming up against different pitches this series, different grounds.

"Yes, this series probably didn't go as we wanted, but it's a quick turnaround, and the boys will have to park that pretty quickly and move onto the tests. With the test cycle at the moment, these two tests will be pretty important for us.

"With the whiteball, we had a chance to play Australia at home, which is always a massive occasion. We found out, at times, we can compete with these guys and if we're a little bit off, they obviously showed us that.

"Going forward to these test matches, the guys are shaping up pretty well, and we'll wait and see what these wickets will do."

Ironically, Santner may play little part in the five-day encounters, depending on whether the pitches take spin.

His bowling option proved quite successful against the Proteas at Mt Maunganui. where he had figures of 6/93 over the two innings, but he was unwanted at Hamilton, where the tourists named two spinners and found some success, with debutant Dane Piedt claiming 5/89 in the first innings.

Without Santner, the Blackcaps turned to part-timers Rachin Ravindra and Glenn Phillips, who played a valuable role with the ball. 

"Looking at the pitch, it looked like it wouldn't do much for a spinner and then it started spinning day one, which was a bit of a shame... for me anyway," said Santner. "That's part of the role of a spinner in New Zealand at times.

"That's the balance we've got at the moment, where we've got options if it does spin and if it's seamer-friendly, as it usually is in New Zealand, we've got our bases covered."

Whatever his role, Santner is excited to have the opportunity to face Australia in the long format.

"It probably doesn't happen enough, especially in redball," he said. "I don't think they've been here for a few years now, so it's a nice chance to go at them at home.

Finn Allen makes another early exit against Australia.
Finn Allen makes another early exit against Australia. Photo credit: Photosport

"It's part of the test cycle, so they're big games. We've started well, but we've got these two against Australia, which will be a big challenge, and then six sub-continent tests coming up, which will be another challenge."

After winning the inaugural test championship, New Zealand currently top the table in the third instalment, with three wins from four matches so far.

During the Twenty20 series, the Blackcaps will reflect on some substandard fielding, with several catches grassed.

"I think there were seven catches, but it's a controllable," said Santner, after the third match. "I not sure what it was.

"At night, it can be quite challenging to catch, but it was during the day today. It's one of those ones that can change games quite quickly, giving guys like Travis Head a couple of lives and Mitch Marsh the other night.

"It's hard to wrestle momentum back."