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March 15, 2007
Stephen Fleming will have revenge on his mind when New Zealand open their World Cup campaign against England in St Lucia on Friday. Both teams were involved in the CB series in Australia, with England winning and Fleming's side failing to make the finals.
"We're smarting over England knocking us out in Australia and to get a good start to this tournament we have to win it, and win it well," Fleming said. "Looking at the Super Eights you've probably got to beat every side at some stage to win this tournament and if we beat England now it may help in the long run." If both teams make it to the second phase the winner of Friday's match will carry two points into it.
"New Zealand are a good team and are full of experience of playing in these kinds of tournaments," Michael Vaughan said. "They are always there or thereabouts come semi-final time. We know it's a tough game for us on Friday but, as we showed in Australia, if we turn up and play we can certainly beat them."
While Vaughan, who is confident his hamstring will stand up to the stress of fielding for 50 overs, said recent form would count for little, he was pleased England beat New Zealand in "two different environments" during the Australia tour. "In Brisbane, where the ball bounced and swung a bit, and in Hobart, where it was a slow, Caribbean-style wicket," he said. "We also know we lost in Adelaide."
England fell at the first hurdle during the 2003 World Cup but Vaughan said they were now a stronger side. "We've got some real match-winners in this team - Andrew Flintoff, Kevin Pietersen and Paul Collingwood," he said. "These guys on any given day can win you games on their own. At the last World Cup we might have had one or two match-winners. I think we've got as many as five in this team."
England's preparations suffered a setback when the fast bowler James Anderson fractured the little finger of his right hand during catching practice on Wednesday. New Zealand also had a problem when Craig McMillan suffered severe foot bruising after being hit by a Shane Bond yorker.
"We're pretty similar in our make-up," Fleming said. "We've both got good left-arm spinners [Daniel Vettori and Monty Panesar], the allrounder side of things is taken care off with Jacob Oram and Flintoff."
However, Fleming said there was an area where he thought his side had the advantage. "One thing we've got maybe is experience, we have some pretty experienced players in our side," he said. "The English have played a lot of county and domestic cricket, but in internationals and World Cups I think we've got them covered."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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