Cricket: Fleming has Kiwis at peak for showdown

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The Independent Online
NEW ZEALAND aim to take advantage of Australia's scrappy early form in today's Group B game at Sophia Gardens, Cardiff, and the Kiwis' captain, Stephen Fleming, says his team are capable of pulling off a major upset.

The Australians have the upper hand in head-to-head results, winning 12 of the last 15 encounters, but Fleming is confident. "We're a better side than our record suggests," he said. "We've peaked at the right time and I am sure the players have realised it will be the last hurrah for most of them. They will try and make it big here.

"If we are to qualify, we need at least three wins in a very tough group. The only way you could achieve that is by beating some big names. The first big hurdle [Australia] has come and we will clear it."

In pre-World Cup warm-ups New Zealand achieved a six-wicket win over Bangladesh at Chelmsford while the Australians won by the same margin against Scotland at Worcester, but dropped three catches and threw poorly.

Scotland scored a surprising 181 for 7 after being sent in and the Australian coach, Geoff Marsh, said: "Our fielding was disappointing. I don't think it could get any worse. We had a chat about it, and all the boys came out and worked on it. It's not as if they haven't been doing the work.

"Let's hope it was one of those days that's come and gone, but we do need to improve. We need to concentrate a bit more."

The New Zealand coach, Steve Rixon, is confident of a strong showing. "The guys are starting to talk about winning something, and playing well," he said. "There's a big turnaround in the mentality."