Stephen Fleming has defended himself against charges of trying to minimise damage to New Zealand's run-rate rather than trying to win during the later stages of yesterday's six-wicket loss to Sri Lanka.
Fleming, who once instructed his players to underperform during a tri-series match at Perth in 2001, was grilled by the British press after he appeared to take a more defensive tack near the end of the match at a time when outright attack was his only winning chance.
The ploy rekindled memories of New Zealand's thrown game against South Africa at Perth six years ago, and the go-slow strategy employed by Australian skipper Steve Waugh against the West Indies at the 1999 World Cup.
"It was a fine balance between trying to put pressure on them and looking after our run-rate," said Fleming.
"We were so far out of the game when they were one down. It was hard - if we'd lost 30 or 40 quick runs it could have enormously affected our run-rate.
"I wasn't willing to take the first 10 overs of powerplays and lose the game in the 38th over, when I could stretch it out for another eight.
"You've got to pay attention to the run-rates - you're dumb if you don't. We were one wicket away from pushing really hard.
"We thought one more wicket with 50 runs to get, we could push and have a good go at it but just getting that wicket was the issue."
But Fleming shot down questions about his motive for going on the defensive in the later stages of the chase, saying it was tough to juggle the winning spirit against the long-term advantage of preserving a healthy run-rate.
The way the tournament is panning out, run-rate differentials might be required to separate those teams locked on eight and six points.
One of those teams might be New Zealand.
"At no stage did we give up the game," Fleming said.
"We discussed it all the way through - how we were going to best use the powerplays, because they were the toughest part of the equation.
"If you've got two hitters in and you use your powerplays, you increase the risk of your run-rate taking a hit.
"If you look at how the different scenarios could play out, you've got to be careful because if you throw a game away and your run-rate plummets, then you can give away quite an advantage.
"I was by no means giving the game up, I was just trying to find a way in which we could win but if we didn't, not hurting our run-rate."
New Zealand's six-wicket loss scuppered their hopes of cementing a semifinals berth with two second-round games remaining, ended any chance of them equalling their best winning sequence of 10 games, and left Australia as the only unbeaten team.
Outplayed from the start, New Zealand lost wickets regularly while limping through to 219 for seven, a total that might have been much lower but for the efforts of Scott Styris, who ended unbeaten on 111.
Nothing went right for the New Zealanders, apart from Daniel Vettori taking his 200th ODI wicket, Sri Lankan skipper Mahela Jayawardene, caught by substitute Hamish Marshall.
Opening bowler Chaminda Vaas knocked the top off the New Zealand batting during a superb first spell, and off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan joined in later in the innings.
Fleming said it was an ordinary effort from his team.
"It was a poor performance, just a day in which we couldn't get anything going," he said.
"We kept losing wickets, and against a side with the best attack in the world, we just couldn't afford to do that."