Shane Warne believes Stephen Fleming struggles to read his bowling © AFP

Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath have set their sights on Stephen Fleming and Nathan Astle for the two-Test series against New Zealand, starting on Thursday. The two batsmen have given the touring squad a boost by saying they are almost certain to play alongside Daniel Vettori, the side's other injury concern.

In what has become a traditional pre-match ritual, McGrath trumpeted Astle as his new target in a career list that has included Brian Lara, Michael Atherton and Michael Vaughan. "He's a big key to their batting line-up and it's probably 50-50 between us at the moment," McGrath, who has dismissed Astle once, told the Courier-Mail. Astle is carrying a back injury but should be fit while Fleming expects to feel 100% by Thursday. Vettori is also confident his shoulder will be ready.

Warne returns from a broken thumb, which restricts his ability to bowl the flipper, and quickly joined in the game with McGrath. "Stephen Fleming is the man I am nailing," Warne said. "He is my mate and I am going to nail him. No more Mr Nice Guy to him. I want to really test him out. We will enjoy a beer after it, but I really want his wicket."

Warne said Fleming, who has struggled with a mystery illness since the Bangladesh tour ended, was crucial to New Zealand, but he found it difficult to read his bowling. "He will be one of their most important players because he will either open or bat three and if he gets through the new ball he can hold the whole innings together," he said. "I will try and nail him because I am not sure he picks exactly what I bowl."