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Wellington: New Zealand this week face Australia in a one-day international for the first time since the Baggy Greens humiliated their trans-Tasman rivals in the World Cup final last March.
While the pressure proved too much on that occasion as Brendon McCullum’s men slumped to a seven-wicket loss in Melbourne, this time New Zealand are on home soil and in a rich vein of ODI form.
The Black Caps have just beaten Pakistan 2-0 in a three-match series, building on a 3-1 series win over Sri Lanka.
Opener Martin Guptill said the New Zealanders approached their fixtures match-by-match and claimed they had not even spoken about facing the Australians yet, let alone raised the prospect of revenge.
But he said there was no doubt Australia was the main drawcard for Kiwi fans during the New Zealand summer.
“It is going to be pretty exciting, and talking to people wherever we have been everyone is excited about the Australians coming,” he said after Sunday’s three-wicket win over Pakistan.
Hostilities commence on Wednesday in Auckland with the first of three one-dayers, followed by Tests in Wellington and Christchurch.
Australia arrive as favourites despite mixed form at home against India, when they won the ODI series 4-1 but lost 3-0 in the T20 format.
Smith keen to improve away record
Captain Steve Smith said he was keen to improve his team’s away record, particularly on seaming wickets such as those in New Zealand.
“We’re very hungry for New Zealand. We haven’t performed extremely well away from home,” he said.
“That’s top of my agenda, to make sure we’re playing well away from home.”
Australia controversially left the in-form Usman Khawaja out of the touring party and Smith said the batsmen who did make the trip needed to adapt to local conditions.
“Guys are working hard and we know what to expect,” he said.
The tourists will also be without coach Darren Lehmann for at least the beginning of the tour as he recovers from deep-vein thrombosis (DVT).
“Obviously (I’m) still recovering from the DVT, but for me it’s just about hopefully getting medical clearance later on in the week and see where we go from there and join the New Zealand group,” he told reporters on Sunday.