Former United States president Theodore Roosevelt summed up his foreign policy as: "speak softly, and carry a big stick".

French emperor Napoleon declared his leadership philosophy: "men must be led by an iron hand in a velvet glove".

New Zealand batsman and captain-in-waiting Kane Williamson said of his side's second Chappell-Hadlee one-day international innings: "There were a lot of rebuilding phases, then, when we tried to take momentum we lost wickets after small partnerships. That didn't allow us to maximise a better total in the end overs."

Williamson's positive outlook on life means he will seldom, if ever, criticise teammates.

Advertisement

However, in the absence of an iron hand or big stick, this quote highlights succinctly what he thinks New Zealand must do to improve for tomorrow's series decider against Australia at Hamilton.

A win would see New Zealand defend the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy (they won it in pool play at the World Cup) and extend their home record to five bilateral ODI series victories. The last loss was against South Africa in October 2014.

Their middle order needs to deliver.

Yesterday, New Zealand were 158-3 in the 30th over when Williamson was dismissed for 60. They lost four wickets for 47 across the next 11 overs, before Mitchell Santner (45 runs off 39 balls) and Adam Milne (36 off 27) delivered respectability with a 61-run eighth-wicket rearguard off 44 balls.

Grant Elliott (32 off 47), Corey Anderson (16 off 28) and Luke Ronchi (19 off 19) got limited traction.

Similarly, New Zealand lost four for 53 in 12 overs to go from 181-2 to 234-6 in the opening one-day international. That mini-slump was disguised by the 100-run third-wicket stand between Martin Guptill and Henry Nicholls, and further hitting from No.8 Santner (35 not out from 39) to reach 307 for eight.

Elliott contributed 21 off 18, Anderson 10 off 20 and Ronchi 16 off 26.

A similar instance occurred in the first of two ODIs against Pakistan when New Zealand went from 70-2 to 99-6 in the space of 40 balls.

If New Zealand reinforce that area, so at least one of Elliott, Anderson or Ronchi frees his arms in the last 10 overs alongside Santner, Milne or Henry, they will generate every chance of a memorable victory in Hamilton.

That would provide the perfect entrée to sate the appetite before the two-test series.

- By Andrew Alderson in Wellington