Inexperienced Black Caps chasing No.1 ranking
CRICKET: The New Zealand cricket team has rediscovered its mojo as it heads to Sydney to prepare for next week's defence of the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy against Australia.
A first Test series win over Pakistan in 31 years has proven an antidote to defeats in South Africa and India.
Past one-day international results across the Tasman make humbling reading for Black Caps fans.
New Zealand has won 18 of 57 completed ODIs in Australia, including four out of 16 chasing under lights.
However, few of the current squad have any significant experience against their rivals, a fact compounded by the absence of Ross Taylor as he undergoes eye surgery.
Of the current squad, only Martin Guptill (18 matches, seven wins), Tim Southee (14 matches, five wins) and Kane Williamson (six matches, three wins) have played more than five ODIs against them.
Aside from the March 2015 World Cup final - of which the above trio, Trent Boult and Matt Henry featured from the current squad - New Zealand last played Australia away in 2009.
That was almost three-and-a-half years before Mike Hesson became coach.
New Zealand has the added incentive that if it was to win 3-0 against Australia, and ditto against Bangladesh, it could rise from No.3 to No.1 in the world.
Hesson is wary of what Australia offers in its limited-overs game, compared to the Test side's struggle for consistency.
"Their one-day side is significantly more settled and experienced. They know their conditions and will be sure to want that Chappell-Hadlee Trophy back.
"But we've got some players playing in both forms of cricket who will gain some confidence from this (series win over Pakistan). We are a reliable white-ball side, but not as experienced as we were at the World Cup.
"That provides an opportunity, because a lot of our guys (nine out of 14) have never played (ODIs) in Australia. There'll be good crowds and plenty of hostility. We're looking forward to it.”
Hesson cited Colin de Grandhomme as an example of a player who would benefit from selection after his excellent showing against Pakistan.
"Certainly Colin has added to our bowling depth and that helps his limited-overs cause. He's more reliable with the ball than some of our all-rounders and offers the ability to bowl close to 10 overs if the conditions suit.
"He bowls at the death a lot in domestic cricket so he's had plenty of experience there, and we've seen glimpses of how destructive he can be with the bat. When Colin bats, the game can change, and it's nice to have guys like that in your side.
"We've got to put together a plan on how we might use our various options. Sydney might spin a bit, but we'll have to wait and see.”
Hesson confirmed Trent Boult had completed a full fitness test as part of his recovery, and was expected to bowl 10 overs per match.
Martin Guptill had an issue with his shoulder when throwing, but a cortisone injection fixed it.
The New Zealand coach also reflected on the win over Pakistan, which resonated with his childhood.
"We haven't beaten Pakistan in a Test series since 1985,” he said. "I was at that game at Carisbrook and remember it vividly. We're aware of our history, and knew Pakistan would have to play well on what was really a fourth day surface.”