New Zealand ready to challenge Australia in Tests

Auckland, Oct 20 (IANS) New Zealand will face a new-look Australia in next month’s three-Test series but the Black Caps are clear they will neither be fazed by nor underestimate their opponents.

A 15-man Kiwi squad set off for Sydney on Tuesday for their six-week tour which will begin with Friday’s day-nighter against a Prime Minister’s XI in Canberra, featuring Test hopefuls Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, Joe Burns, Adam Voges and Peter Siddle, reports

That match, and a two-day red-ball game against a Cricket Australia (CA) XI that will follow on Saturday and Sunday, will offer New Zealand their first look at many of their likely opponents for the first Test at the Gabba in Brisnane on November 5.

Paceman Tim Southee said the Canberra tour matches, plus a four-day game against CA XI in Sydney next week, would give the Black Caps ample opportunity to prepare for the Test series.

“Personally, I haven’t been this excited for a series for a long time. One thing we do know is this is an Australian side that won’t lie down. The first Test is in Brisbane and I don’t think they’ve lost there for 20-odd years,” Southee said at the Auckland Airport here on Tuesday.

Southee and Trent Boult will spearhead New Zealand’s attack while Australia are in a period of transition following the Test retirements of Michael Clarke, Chris Rogers, Brad Haddin, Shane Watson and Ryan Harris. Southee said the Black Caps would not make the mistake of underestimating the hosts.

“I guess it’s a chance to do something no other side has done for a number of years now, but we’ve got a couple of games to prepare leading into that,” added the 26-year-old.

New Zealand last won a series on Australian soil in 1985, even before Southee was born, but they head to Australia with an air of confidence on the back of recent strong results in the Test arena.

Southee said New Zealand’s seven-run win in Hobart four years ago, their last Test victory on Australian soil, showed what the Kiwis could do.

“If you look at our last 7-8 series, I don’t think we’ve lost a series. We’ve found a formula and a way that works for this team and for the personnel within the side. I don’t think we need to change what we’re doing because it seems to be putting the results on the board,” he concluded.

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