New Zealand

Black Caps' Brendon McCullum celebrates scoring a century.

The Black Caps' Brendon McCullum celebrates scoring a century. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The Black Caps have never reached a World Cup final but have their best chance since the tournament was last held in New Zealand and Australia in 1992.

They have been buoyed by their recent good form, having won four of their last five one-day series.

The series win over Sri Lanka is a confident booster ahead of their World Cup opener against the same opponents on Saturday, 14 February.

But the nature of one-day cricket means recent form, while encouraging, can't be taken for granted.

Skipper Brendon McCullum, along with coach Mike Hesson, has managed to turn around the side's fortunes in the past couple of years, although there are still areas of concern, most notably the opening batting partnership.

A lot of responsibility rests on McCullum's shoulders to get the innings off to a flier. He's ably supported by Kane Williamson at three and Ross Taylor at four.

There'll be no change to Brendon McCullum's attacking approach says Black Caps batting coach Craig McMillan.

There'll be no change to Brendon McCullum's attacking approach says Black Caps batting coach Craig McMillan. Photo: Photosport

Much responsibility lies with captain Brendon McCullum if the Black Caps are to make their first World Cup final.

The concern with Martin Guptill is that he desperately needs to find runs at the tournament if he is to support McCullum who will play just one way - attack from the outset.

The pace bowling lineup with Tim Southee, Kyle Mills, Adam Milne, Mitchell McClennghan and Trent Boult works well as a unit. Each offers something different - from genuine pace, to the left arm variation of Boult and McClennaghan, to the swing of Southee, and the wily attack of veteran Mills.

Add to that the spin bowling options in Dan Vettori and Nathan McCullum, and the Black Caps' bowling unit is a very effective one that is always backed up by a strong fielding performance.

With a diet of one-day matches in the lead up to the competition, the Black Caps are familiar with local conditions and need to make the most of that if they're to qualify for the final.

Key Players: Captain and batsman Brendon McCullum, batsman Kane Williamson, fast bowler Tim Southee.

New Zealand: Brendon McCullum (captain), Trent Boult, Grant Elliott, Tom Latham, Martin Guptill, Mitchell McClenaghan, Nathan McCullum, Kyle Mills, Adam Milne, Daniel Vettori, Kane Williamson, Corey Anderson, Tim Southee, Luke Ronchi (wicket-keeper), Ross Taylor.

February 14th: New Zealand vs Sri Lanka, Hagley Oval, Christchurch.
February 17th: New Zealand vs Scotland, Hagley Oval, Dunedin.
February 20th: New Zealand vs England, Wellington Regional Stadium, Wellington.
February 28th: New Zealand vs Australia, Eden Park, Auckland.
March 8th: New Zealand vs Afghanistan, McLean Park Napier.
March 13th: New Zealand vs Bangladesh, Seddon Park, Hamilton.