Auckland: New Zealand's cricketers have been told to shape up or face the axe in the one-day series against Bangladesh which starts on Wednesday as they look to recover from a torrid past nine weeks.
New Zealand have never lost a one-day international to Bangladesh in eight encounters.
But such has been their wretched form in New Zealand's recent back-to-back tours to South Africa and Australia that they cannot look towards this three-match series against the reputed easybeats with confidence.
With the batsmen out of sorts and the bowlers unable to find a line, captain Daniel Vettori has called for a complete form turnaround against Bangladesh before England arrive early next year.
"The pressure's on us to win now," said Vettori, reflecting on the 1-2 ODI loss and 0-2 Test drubbing in South Africa followed by the 0-2 defeat in Australia.
"We have to win comfortably leading into a tough England series. There's not more pressure than playing Australia but there's a lot of pressure on guys to actually step up and perform."
Former New Zealand great and now national selector Sir Richard Hadlee told a Sunday newspaper there was a clear need for all-round improvement.
"Clearly, we've been disappointed by a number of the performances in the one-dayers and a number of those guys are a part of the Test set-up, so we need to see some improvement in both the batting and bowling," Hadlee said.
"They've got a couple of games to really impress."
But when given a chance to impress when playing under the guise of a New Zealand XI against Bangladesh in a Twenty20 match on Sunday, the Kiwis again capitulated.
With their confidence gone, the batsmen struggled to 133 for seven which Bangladesh easily overhauled with three overs and four wickets in hand.
Discarded international James Marshall top-scored with an unbeaten 33, while the best of the incumbent internationals was Scott Styris who made 29.
All of the New Zealand wickets fell to bowlers, with Bangladesh paceman Shahadat Hossain taking an impressive three for 15 off four overs.
In contrast, when Bangladesh launched their energetic run chase three of their dismissals were run outs.
Stephen Fleming, who captained the composite New Zealand side, pinpointed Bangladesh's fearless approach to run gathering as a potential danger.
"They've got good strokemakers. There's not a lot of fear in some of their players and on their day they can come off -- we've seen that in some of the upsets they've caused at World Cups," Fleming said.
Bangladesh beat India and South Africa at the World Cup in the West Indies earlier this year before losing by nine wickets to New Zealand.
"Their batting is probably almost the opposite of where our batting unit is," Fleming said.
"They seem full of confidence, and they don't really have a lot of fear. The consequence of them playing a bad shot and getting out doesn't seem to be there."
The reverse applies for New Zealand's current top order.
Jamie How (10) and Ross Taylor (15) never fired on Sunday while Peter Fulton, returning from knee surgery, made a ponderous three.
"It feels very tentative with the (New Zealand) batting unit," said Fleming who has now retired from the shortened form of the game.
"There's been a lot of focus on it, the performances haven't been great and with that comes a certain amount of tension."