Auckland: One of the most fierce cricketing rivalries will play out in what is expected to be a crackling contest when four-time champions Australia lock horns with underdogs-turned-contenders New Zealand in a group A match of the ICC World Cup here on Saturday.
New Zealand have been a team on the roll in this tournament, having notched three consecutive victories so far to be unbeaten and perched at the top in the points table.
Australia, on the other hand, have finished two games, of which only one has yielded a result. After thrashing England in the opener by 111 runs, the Aussies had to settle for a no result against minnows Bangladesh after cyclone Marcia poured cold water on their aim for a big victory.
New Zealand, the underdogs in almost all the World Cups gone by, are revelling in the comfort of home conditions and have looked the most exciting team of the event so far.
In Brendon McCullum, the Kiwis seem to have the big-hitting in-form batsman, who can turn the game on its head in any given circumstance. "It'll be a great challenge for both sides, he's going to certainly come at us and we've got some plans for him. It's going to be exciting -- New Zealand have been very impressive. It's going to be interesting to see how they play against us, I'm sure they'll be really aggressive, so it's going to be a cracker of A game," Australian coach Darren Lehmann said with a touch of caution.
Australia would be boosted by the return of inspirational skipper Michael Clarke but his lack of match practice will be a concern for the co-hosts. New Zealand coach Mike Hesson said he considers the game as just another preliminary match even though there is immense media hype in both the countries. "It's just another one of the round robin games and obviously it's going to be a good one," Hesson said.
New Zealand (from): Brendon McCullum (captain), Trent Boult, Grant Elliott, Tom Latham, Martin Guptill, Mitchell McClenaghan, Nathan McCullum, Kyle Mills, Adam Milne, Daniel Vettori, Kane Williamson, Corey Anderson, Tim Southee, Luke Ronchi (wkt), Ross Taylor
Australia (from): Michael Clarke (captain), George Bailey, David Warner, Aaron Finch, Shane Watson, Steven Smith, Brad Haddin (wkt), Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Marsh, James Faulkner, Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins, Xavier Doherty.