NEW Zealand have lit the fuse for a fiery trans-Tasman clash in the Champions Trophy, confident they can bully a vulnerable Australia into submission at Edgbaston.
The in-form Black Caps are sensing a chance to reverse their historic role as cricket underdogs and pledged to tighten the screws even more on Australia’s floundering batsmen ahead of the Ashes.
Victory for New Zealand would see them into the Champions Trophy semi-finals and defending title-holders Australia most likely crashing out of the tournament.
Veteran fast bowler Kyle Mills says the target will be firmly on Australia’s top order, who he believes will be looking over their shoulders in fear.
“All their top order will be feeling the heat a little bit to not only win the game but also hold their spot in the team,” Mills said.
“If we can take advantage of that I’m sure it will bode well for us in those pressure situations.”
Mills described Australian opener David Warner as a “rocks or diamonds” player and said middle-order man Adam Voges would be targeted by firing Kiwi quicks Tim Southee and Mitchell McGlenaghan as well as himself.
He sees Shane Watson as the wall between victory and defeat for New Zealand.
“The last time I played Australia was in the last Champions Trophy final (2009). Watson got the hundred … and he’s the key wicket for those guys I feel,” said Mills.
“Warner is either going to be rocks or diamonds. He’s either going to kill you or we can get him early.
“Voges is one of those guys who has been in and out of the side a lot. Hopefully we can put some pressure on those guys in the middle there … and expose them a little bit.”
New Zealand are sweating on injury-plagued warrior Daniel Vettori to battle on with an achilles problem, and take advantage of Australia’s poor record against spin.
“They’re a bit short on spinners and notoriously they don’t really play spin that well,” he said.
“Obviously Dan is in a hell of a lot of pain.
“Watching him bowl you can tell he’s just a class above anyone else going around really and he’s crucial for us in our line-up. Hopefully he can guts it out.”
Mills overtook Muttiah Muralitharan as the leading-wicket taker in the history of the Champions Trophy, in New Zealand’s thrilling one-wicket pool victory over Sri Lanka on Sunday.
The Black Caps are fresh from beating England in an ODI series prior to the tournament’s start, but Mills said beating Australia, who lost to England last-start, would be their most satisfying result.
“I was brought up on taking on the Aussies,” he said.
“I’m a firm believer that cricket is a big momentum sport.
“Hopefully we can continue this winning feeling we have in the group forward.”