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New Zealand v Australia, the clash between in-form co-hosts and traditional fierce sporting rivals, is being billed as the biggest match to date in the Cricket World Cup.


But Black Caps coach Mike Hesson is taking a business as usual approach before the trans-Tasman encounter in Auckland on Saturday.

He doesn’t feel his own players’ excellent form in the tournament so far brings added pressure of expectation because “we don’t get caught up in the hype, really”.

“Our guys can read and they will read the paper sometimes, some of them more than others, but we’re a pretty grounded group,” he said.

“We just get on with doing the best we can every day. If we have a bad day, hopefully we can scrub up and come back the next day.”

Some of what the Black Caps will have read are comments coming out of the Australian camp.

Coach Darren Lehmann, having seen New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum plunder 77 off 25 balls against England, noted the extra pace that the Australian attack would bring.

Opener David Warner followed up with the view that if Australia bowled well to McCullum, it would create pressure and induce “a brain explosion”.

Hesson wasn’t too perturbed by the threat posed by the likes of Australian speedsters Mitchell Starc and Mitchell Johnson.

He said the Blacks Caps were used to facing express pace from one of their own, Adam Milne, in the nets.

“He bowls 150 [km/h] and we cope with that OK,” he said.

“Every side we play have got some different challenge and Australia have obviously got some guys who bowl some good gas, as do we, so it should a good game.”

New Zealand go into the match with a 3-0 record in the tournament, including big wins over Sri Lanka and England.

Because of the weather, Australia have been in action in only one of their two scheduled fixtures, producing a 111-run thumping of England on the opening day.

Hesson is reluctant to enter the debate over which team will head to Eden Park as favourites.

“For us, it doesn’t mean anything,” he said.

“We’re preparing against a side that are playing some pretty good cricket. We don’t really buy into favouritism or not. We just get on with it.”

New Zealand have fielded the same 11 in all three matches and Hesson indicated that there would be few if any changes against Australia.

“We’ve got another couple of trainings but the group that has been performing the last week has been doing a good job for us,” he said.

“Unlikely to be many [changes], but we just have to see how we scrub up closer to the end of the week.”


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