David Warner, Australian vice-captain, shakes hands with Brendon McCullum after his final innings in Test cricket on Monday © Getty Images
David Warner, Australian vice-captain, shakes hands with Brendon McCullum after his final innings in Test cricket on Monday © Getty Images

Brendon McCullum is anything but a magician, and if New Zealand expected him to create the same effect twice in the ongoing final Test against Australia at Christchurch, they were grossly mistaken. McCullum’s characteristic knock in New Zealand’s first innings was adequate to provided a struggling batting order a shot in the arm as they went past 350-run mark. But with their shortcomings exposed in the second innings, the New Zealand side are staring at a possible defeat in their beloved captain’s final game in international cricket. Trailing by 14 runs and with 6 wickets in hand, New Zealand will need strong performances by the batsmen who are remaining in order to put up a strong fight. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: New Zealand vs Australia, 2nd Test at Christchurch

New Zealand’s tendency to depend on McCullum for such fightbacks has become a trend, and it will be a test once their dashing batsman is gone. McCullum’s swashbuckling century — the fastest in Test cricket now — was enough to help New Zealand make a strong start in order to avert a defeat. But Australia’s strong batting performance nullified the progress made by New Zealand in the second Test at Christchurch.

The problem for New Zealand starts right from the top. Martin Guptill, who has been one of their batting mainstays, has had a poor run against Australia. In the three-match away series late last year, Guptill managed only 82 runs in 3 Tests at 13.66, while his partner Tom Latham got 187 from 3 Tests at 31.16 — not the numbers you want your top two batsmen to get. Australia continue to rule as New Zealand on Day 3 were 121 for 4 at stumps in 2nd Test at Christchurch

Ross Taylor has been missing from action, and with only one big knock at Perth in the second Test of the Trans-Tasman Trophy 2015-16 series he was able to make a mark. Else, the batting has flopped miserably both home and away for New Zealand.

While Kane Williamson has been their best batsman both home and away, international sides know the dangers of depending only on specific batsmen. Williamson was the second highest run-getter in Australia with 428 runs in 3 Tests at a splendid average of 85.60, he has not find the same form in the ongoing series. Only in his final innings — and when New Zealand need it desperately — Williamson seems to have found his rhythm back. ALSO READ: New Zealand, Australia join together to mark fifth anniversary of deadly Christchurch earthquake

On the other hand, the Australians have amassed runs starting from the top. David Warner led the chart in the series played earlier and Adam Voges was at the top with 299 runs in just 2 innings in the ongoing series.

The bowling figures too have been different. While Trent Boult did well to grab 13 wickets in the 3 Tests in Australia, at home, in favourable conditions, he has managed only 4. Surprisingly, both the venues — Wellington and Christchurch — had green-top wickets but it is Nathan Lyon who has surprised with 10 wickets so far in the series.

After a dismal outing, it can only be hoped that New Zealand learn the core values of all-round performance for winning, rather than splashing with individual sparks of brilliance.

(Devarchit Varma is senior writer with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)