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February 7, 2009
Andy Moles, the New Zealand coach, outlined the growing confidence within his young squad when he called upon his charges to inflict a rare whitewash on Australia. The tourists have been effective in stymieing the home batsmen in the opening two games of the Chappell-Hadlee Series, and will attempt to seize the trophy with an unchanged line-up in Sydney on Sunday.
"We want to win 3-0, then 4-0 then 5-0," Moles said. "The boys were really determined after the game [in Melbourne]. They realise they're on the verge of doing something quite special, coming across and winning an ODI series in Australia and they want to be part of that.
"We're delighted to be 2-0 up but we know the Australians are a very proud team and they're going to come back at us hard. We have the momentum at the moment and we intend to keep that. We've spoken long and hard about areas we need to bowl to the opposition and it's been backed up in the field really well."
The New Zealanders will view the hurried recall of Ricky Ponting as tacit acknowledgement of their strong form. The hosts struggled to post a competitive total without their captain on Friday, and the move to rush him back into the top order is hardly a vote of confidence for those who filled his shoes.
The news got better for New Zealand with confirmation that Shaun Tait would leave the squad with a hamstring injury, and be replaced by Ryan Harris. Australia will miss Tait's pace and impact, and will instead rely on a more subtle pace attack that will likely feature Nathan Bracken, Ben Hilfenhaus and Mitchell Johnson. Bracken appeared ready for combat, arriving at the team's Sydney hotel in a Hum-Vee, and Australia will require his full arsenal on Sunday if they are to stay alive in the series.
"It's definitely hurting," the Australia coach Tim Nielsen said. "We don't like getting beaten, we don't like not playing to our best. Two-nil down is always going to be a kick in the guts for you. It's a real challenge for us now. We've talked a lot about this over the last month, to ensure that we don't let the results drive our emotional energy too much." On Sunday they will try to conserve further by attempting to combat the forecast 40-degree heat by ingesting crushed ice - an inside-out cooling technique used successfully by Olympians in Beijing.
While Nielsen said the influx of new faces into the team was a positive sign, he also expected some inconsistent performances as they learned about the international game. "I'm sure there are some players sitting in their rooms at night thinking, 'What do I have to do to have the success I want and need?' We'll work hard to keep supporting them and encouraging them and I'm pretty sure [on Sunday] you'll see a group that will be out there to do their very best again."
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