The Brendon McCullum era at the helm of the Black Caps has began with a humiliating defeat in South Africa this morning.
New Zealand was humbled by eight wickets by their hosts in the first Twenty20 international in Durban, with the Proteas chasing down the Black Caps' paltry total of 86 with ease.
It was always going to be a tall order for New Zealand given the side was fielding four debutantes and playing its first international since the unfolding of the Ross Taylor captaincy sacking just two weeks ago. The absence of Martin Guptill, ruled out of the match with a stomach bug, also did not help mattters.
Yet, despite the Black Caps off-field dramas, the fashion of the defeat would have surprised most critics with New Zealand's batting card made to look wafer-thin by South Africa's own rookie line-up.
''We obviously wanted to be aggressive today, and we obviously wanted to put South Africa under pressure right from the get-go,'' McCullum said.
''I think we learned a little bit about earning the right to do so first, ensure you stick to your fundamentals first and foremost, give yourself that opportunity and platform to then be aggressive, and I think that's something that we'll definintely take out of this game.
"We were just over-keen to put some pressure on South Africa from the outset.''
The foundation of the resounding loss was laid with the collapse of New Zealand's upper and middle order, with the South African seam battery of Dale Steyn, Ryan McLaren and Rory Kleinveldt reducing the visitors to just 36 for 6 after eight overs.
New Zealand's top four of Rob Nicol, Peter Fulton, McCullum and James Franklin managed only 18 runs, ensuring the workload for the new boys would be a big one.
There was never going to be a way back for McCullum's men from that point, with only three of the sides making it to double figures. Debutante Colin Munro did what he could at the crease - easing four well struck balls away to the boundary - but ultimately went the way of his team mates; caught and bowled by Chris Morris for 23.
With such a rapid fall of wickets, New Zealand's run rate completely stagnated - and despite some maturity at the crease by Doug Bracewell (21 not out) - the visitors were dismissed before seeing out their twenty overs, managing to reach only 18.2.
Auckland seamer Mitchell McClenaghan snared a wicket in his very first over in international cricket, with explosive opener Richard Levi (0) edging a clever slower ball to first slip.
However there was little to celebrate for the Black Caps from there on in, with South African captain Faf du Plessis (38 not out) first combining with Henry Davids (20) and then keeper Quinton de Kock (28 not out) to get his side home in only 12.1 overs.
The Black Caps and Proteas play two more Twenty20 internationals, in East Lodnon on Monday and in Port Elizabeth on Boxing Day, before a two-match test series begins in Cape Town on January 2.
- © Fairfax NZ News