New Zealand's World Cup plans appear in serious disarray after another abject performance from the top-order batsmen sent them toppling out of the Champions Trophy.
Having lost their semifinal to Australia by 34 runs yesterday morning, the New Zealand squad will return home today about $400,000 richer.
But there are almost as many question marks over their run-scoring ability.
Hamish Marshall eked out 10 runs in three innings; fellow specialist Peter Fulton collected 11 from the same number of opportunities, and opener Lou Vincent was only marginally better, with 34 from four outings.
The fragile top-order saved their worst until the last in India, collapsing to 35 for six inside the first 15 overs yesterday morning, effectively torpedoing their chances of overhauling Australia's 240.
The batting woes in a tournament that almost replicates the upcoming World Cup format from the second round on will surely now sound the alarm bells at NZC headquarters, and force coach John Bracewell to ring the changes.
Chief among them should be the immediate release of Marshall, who has been caught up in a scarcely-believable slump over the past 18 months, and ended his tournament campaign with the worst average of the entire squad.
If Bracewell picks him for the next game, it would be no surprise to discover Amnesty International taking an interest, such has been the torture and needless cruelty caused by his continuing selection.
To make things worse for Marshall, the failures continued on from a hapless run of form last season, to the extent that's he has now scored only 280 runs at 15.55 in his 20 most recent ODI innings.
Another sobering point is that, of the 18 times he's been dismissed in that period - they include two run-outs - he's been bowled or leg before wicket on nine occasions.
In other words, he keeps missing the straight ones.
Vincent possibly looked even more vulnerable on the slower Indian pitches and was bowled in his first three innings, not altogether surprising in light of the horrible technical glitch he continues to expose on the front foot.
Some batsmen may have trouble with the cut or the hook shot and can choose simply not to play it; Vincent, unfortunately, has a problem with the length ball pitched on his off pole - a much more fundamental problem.
Add in the inexperience of Fulton, the natural waning of Nathan Astle and the fitness and weight problems afflicting Scott Styris, and it's clear that Bracewell has significant problems as he eyes next year's World Cup in the Caribbean.
One of his most obvious options is to recall young Central Districts tyro Ross Taylor at first opportunity for Marshall - something that probably should have happened in India.
Another is to consider a promotion for wicket-keeper Brendon McCullum.
McCullum is one of New Zealand's most talented batsmen but there's a concern he's now been pigeon-holed as an end-of-innings specialist, and isn't being groomed for more responsibility up the order as he should be.
Granted, McCullum didn't exactly cover himself in glory yesterday morning but, for someone who's been asked to concentrate almost totally on playing aggressive cameos, that was hardly surprising.
If Bracewell could develop McCullum to play at No 5, that would leave Taylor, Styris, Astle, Fulton, Vincent, Marshall and Fleming to battle for the four higher positions, and create some much-needed competition.
New Zealand have plenty of time to make adjustments to their World Cup squad, as they are still to play a five-match series against Sri Lanka at home, and the VB Series and the Chappell-Hadlee Series after Christmas.
But if McCullum is to make a fist of a promotion or if Taylor is to establish himself before the squad leave for the West Indies, Bracewell can ill-afford to waste any time in instigating the changes.
A. Gilchrist c Oram b Mills 3
S. Watson c Fulton b Mills 0
R. Ponting c Vettori b Mills 58
D. Martyn lbw b Vettori 26
M. Hussey c Marshall b Franklin 35
A. Symonds b Bond 58
M. Clarke c Vettori b Mills 14
B. Lee b Bond 5
M. Johnson run out 3
N. Bracken not out 15
G. McGrath not out 0
Extras (lb6, nb3, w14) 23
--Total (9 wkts, 50 overs) 240
Fall: 1/3, 2/4, 3/70, 4/123, 5/188, 6/211, 7/220, 8-223, 9-236.
Bowling: Mills 10-1-38-4 (1w), Bond 10-0-55-2 (10w), Franklin 8-1-48-1 (2nb, 3w), Oram 10-1-43-0 (1nb), Vettori 10-0-41-1, Astle 2-0-9-0
L. Vincent c Ponting b McGrath 1
S. Fleming c Ponting b Bracken 15
N. Astle b Lee 0
H. Marshall c Gilchrist b McGrath 5
P. Fulton b McGrath 2
J. Oram st Gilchrist b Symonds 43
B. McCullum c Martyn b Bracken 1
D. Vettori b Johnson 79
J. Franklin c Gilchrist b Watson 8
K. Mills c Gilchrist b Lee 21
S. Bond not out 9
Extras: (7lb, 2nb, 13w) 22
--Total (46 overs) 206
Fall: 1/16, 2/20, 3/30, 4/30, 5/34, 6/35, 7/138, 8/159, 9/180.
Bowling: Lee 8-0-31-2 (1nb, 6w), McGrath 10-2-22-3 (2w), Bracken 7-1-36-2 (3w), Johnson 7-0-38-1 (1nb, 2w), Watson 7-0-27-1, Symonds 7-0-45-1By Richard Boock Email Richard