New Zealand quick Lockie Ferguson has been ruled out of the remaining two Tests against Australia, but the embattled tourists are confident spearhead Trent Boult will be fit to provide a spark in the pivotal Boxing Day Test.
The hapless Black Caps struggled against an in-form Australia in the first Test at Perth Stadium and were blown away by 296 runs inside four days.
New Zealand have won only one Test in Australia since their sole series triumph across the Tasman Sea in 1985-86 and their prospects of winning a second nose-dived when debutant Ferguson suffered a calf strain on day one and he was unable to bowl.
The 28-year-old bowled just 11 overs at a cost of 47 runs on day one and his horror debut included being denied a maiden Test wicket when Tom Latham dropped Australia talisman Steve Smith at slip.
The fast bowler, who will need five to six weeks to recover, is returning to New Zealand and a replacement for him will be named on Tuesday, coach Gary Stead told reporters on Monday.
Ferguson had himself been a replacement for Boult, who was ruled out of the Perth day-nighter by a rib injury.
New Zealand manfully battled on in fierce heat through tireless bowling from quicks Tim Southee and Neil Wagner but clearly missed Boult's penchant for swing with the pink ball.
The prognosis for the second Test starting Dec. 26 in Melbourne was more encouraging, however.
"Trent's going really well, he was probably three or four days short of being ready for the first Test match," Stead said.
"That was a risk that we weren't prepared to take given the length of the season and what was left to come."
New Zealand also have headaches with their misfiring batting order after being scuttled for tame scores of 166 and 171 against an undermanned Australia attack without quick Josh Hazlewood for the majority of the match.
Struggling opener Jeet Raval is under pressure having made just 66 runs in his last nine Test innings, including scoring just one in both innings in Perth.
"These are some hard lessons for him and great experiences as well," New Zealand captain Kane Williamson said.
"In terms of looking forward, just having finished this game, it's important we reflect on it and any selections will be based upon the surfaces and the squad that we have at the time."
After Melbourne, the series concludes with the New Year’s Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Siddle considered as Australia eye five-pronged attack for Melbourne
Peter Siddle could be in for a surprise recall for the Boxing Day Test against New Zealand as Australia considers deploying a five-pronged attack on what is expected to be a benign Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) pitch.
Australia dominated the series-opener with a commanding 296-run victory inside four days, controlling the conTest throughout and dismissing New Zealand for 166 and 171 despite losing Josh Hazlewood for the majority of the day-nighter.
The tall quick started the match at Perth Stadium spectacularly with the wicket of Jeet Raval but suffered a low-grade hamstring tear in his second over and did not bowl again.
Hazlewood has been ruled out of the second Test and the reserve seamers in the squad, James Pattinson and Michael Neser, will be the frontrunners to replace him.
Australia coach Justin Langer will name a squad replacement for Hazlewood on Tuesday, however, and said 35-year-old Siddle was in the frame having taken 12 wickets at 15.16 for Victoria in three Sheffield Shield matches at the MCG this season.
"The obvious (replacement) would be Peter Siddle actually," Langer said on Sunday.
"He did a really good job in the Ashes, he's bowling very well for Victoria and it's at the MCG where he's played a lot of cricket."
Siddle's hopes of adding to his 67-Test tally could be boosted by Australia contemplating unleashing four quicks along with spinner Nathan Lyon if the MCG pitch looks like offering as little as it has for bowlers in recent Tests.
"If the wicket's like it's been in the last few years ... we'll think about it (playing five bowlers), we'll have a look at it," Langer said.
Pattinson is also a Victorian and therefore familiar with the MCG, while the uncapped Neser is an all-rounder who could offer a bit of batting depth in a team with a five-pronged attack.
While the Australian top order looks in fine fettle, middle-order batsmen Travis Head and Matthew Wade could face an anxious wait after inconsistent recent performances.
Head made 56 in Australia's first innings in Perth in his first half-century since the first Ashes Test in August but scored just five in the second.
Wade fell cheaply for 12 and 17 against New Zealand and was hit several times on the body by firebrand quick Neil Wagner, who persisted with aggressive short-ball tactics throughout the match.
After Melbourne, the series concludes with the New Year's Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground.