New Zealand will need a remarkable reversal of form if they are to emerge as serious contenders in the Champions Trophy and reverse their tumbling world status.
They arrive in South Africa from a morale-sapping series in Sri Lanka where they failed to be competitive and their world
ranking fell from fourth to sixth.
While ever-consistant spinner Daniel Vettori, backed by the return of speedster Shane Bond, ensures there is some fight in the field, the Black Caps fragile batting leaves them vulnerable.
When opener Jesse Ryder fell for a second-ball duck in their must-win pool match against India in the triangular tournament in Sri Lanka it ignited the familiar scene of a top-order batting collapse.
After being white-washed by Sri Lanka in the preceeding two-Test series, New Zealand had looked to build for the Champions Trophy by lifting their game in the ODIs.
But they crashed out of the tournament and failed to bat out 50 overs in back-to-back hidings by India and Sri Lanka.
"In terms of putting up results, we've just not learned anything on tour," Vettori said as they packed up and prepared to head to South Africa.
"I know I sound like a broken record but we just didn't put scores together, we didn't bat as well as we could have."
Against Sri Lanka, where they held the poisoned chalice of batting second at R. Premadasa Stadium, their quest for 217 ended at a limp 119 in the 37th over.
After that match coach Andy Moles said they were there to learn from the mistakes, but against India and with the advantage of batting first, New Zealand collapsed to 66 for five before staggering to 155 in 46.3 overs.
India knocked off the target in the 41st over to win by six wickets.
New Zealand have always talked up their reputation as a limited overs' powerhouse to give them cricket credibility despite a humble Test record
In 2000 they pulled off their biggest success winning the Champions Trophy by beating India in the final.
They were also semi-finalists in 2006 and five-times semi-finalists at the ODI World Cup, including the most recent 2007 tournament in the West Indies, but their fortunes have since taken a turn for the worse.
They have become reliant on the all-round skills of Vettori with the ball and to prop up the batting at the tail.
The bowling armoury has been bolsted by Bond's return from international exile after a two-year flirtation with the Indian Cricket League.
The 34-year-old is joined by two other senior quicks in Daryl Tuffey, 31, who also returns from the ICL and Ian Butler, 27 who is back after years sidelined by injury.
With the bat, Grant Elliott's 41 off 76 balls against Sri Lanka was New Zealand's longest innings and highest individual score.
The top four batsmen -- Jesse Ryder, Brendon McCullum, Ross Taylor and Martin Guptill -- contributed only 55 from their combined eight innings.
Moles gave a pertinent appraisal of the Black Caps when he described them as "a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde" outfit.
"When we play well we're really good but when we play poorly ... you want to forget such performances."
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