New Zealand can make the resurgent England's task of reaching the CB Series finals tougher if they can build on recent form and hand Australia a second successive defeat at Melbourne on Sunday. New Zealand must win at least one of their two remaining matches, against Australia at the MCG and against England in Brisbane on Tuesday, to play in the finals.
Stephen Fleming said England's breakthrough 92-run win over Australia at Sydney made things tougher for his team but added New Zealand had to get used to winning when it matters. "This is what we wanted," he said. "We want it to be a semi-final, a pressure game, where we continue the momentum we build. That's what the World Cup's about, so if anything we couldn't ask for much more.
"It's uncomfortable because you want to win these next two games, but we certainly don't want to miss out on the finals so we've got to play accordingly." New Zealand have been continually improving during the CB Series and came within nine runs of beating Australia in a high-scoring game at Perth last week. That was mainly thanks to Jacob Oram's magnificent century, but New Zealand have still lost 18 of their past 20 matches against Australia.
Fleming said his side's form was encouraging but results must start arriving. "While we're close it's okay to walk away saying 'Gee, we're not far away'," he said. "But far away could be eight runs, it could be 58 runs. We've got to get across the line. New Zealand will wait until shortly before the start to announce the make-up of their bowling attack, as Shane Bond will be rested in one of the remaining two qualifying matches to give his troublesome back further time to settle.
Bond played in the win over England last Tuesday and could be replaced by Kyle Mills. Scott Styris, who has recently joined up with the squad, is also set to come into the side after overcoming back problems, which could force out Craig McMillan.