Bridgetown: New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori gave his side a stark warning to improve their performance or forget about reaching the semi-finals of the World Twenty20.
The Black Caps suffered their first loss of this tournament when they began the second round Super Eights with a 13-run loss to South Africa that was more comprehensive than the raw result suggests.
New Zealand`s attack was hammered by man-of-the-match Albie Morkel, who struck five sixes in an innings that lasted just 18 balls.
Together with AB de Villiers, who finished on 47 not out, he shared a stand of 72 in six overs towards the end of the innings as South Africa scored 170 for four at the Kensington Oval here yesterday.
"It`s the nature of Twenty20 that you can`t get it right every time but there are crucial situations that you have to get right and this time it was the last four or five overs," Vettori said.
Having previously defeated Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe in the group phase, Vettori`s men will now probably need to beat both defending champions Pakistan and England if they are to reach the last four.
"Thursday wasn`t what I expected or what I want and we have to improve pretty quickly going into two must-win games now," left-arm spinner Vettori added.
Against South Africa, several top order batsmen got starts but none could go on to play the significant innings required if New Zealand were to enjoy a successful run chase.
"It`s the nature of the format that your four overs can be brilliant one day and pretty tough the next and we are hoping for a quick turnaround from some of the guys` performances today," Vettori said.
"It`s hard to know what turns it round but hopefully we can adapt pretty quickly.”
"It was probably the last five overs where we weren`t good enough. It`s a very small ground and when you have a destructive hitter like Albie Morkel it`s a very bad combination if you miss," he explained.
Meanwhile Vettori refused to attribute New Zealand`s poor display against South Africa to an inability to cope with a more lively pitch than the one they were used to in Guyana.
"It`s certainly not a quick wicket so it still suited us and we weren`t bothered by the wicket being drastically different to Guyana. But in Twenty20 you have to be almost perfect and we weren`t."