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Black and blue

cricket Updated: Mar 16, 2007 14:28 IST

AFP
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New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming will have revenge very much on his mind when the Black Caps open their World Cup campaign against England in Beausejour on Friday.

Both teams were involved in the triangular series in Australia last month where England, after crushing defeats against both opponents, came from behind to defeat the hosts and reigning world champions 2-0 in the final.

With the Test sides odds-on favourites to qualify from a Group C also featuring Canada and Kenya, Friday's match has added significance.

Assuming they each do make it to the second phase, the winners of this match will carry two points forward into the Super Eights. "We're smarting over England knocking us out in Australia and to get a good start to this tournament we have to win it, and win it well," Fleming said.

"Looking at the Super Eights, you've probably got to beat every side to win this tournament and if we beat England now it may help in the long run."

England captain Michael Vaughan said recent form would count for little. "New Zealand is a good team and are full of experience of playing in these kinds of tournaments," said the skipper. "They are always there or thereabouts come semifinal time. We know it's tough for us but, as we showed in Australia, if we turn up and play we can certainly beat them."

The opening batsman, confident his hamstring will stand up to the stresses and strains of fielding for 50 overs, added: "We beat them in two different environments, in Brisbane where the ball bounced and swung a bit and in Hobart where it was a slow, Caribbean style wicket. "We also know we lost in Adelaide."

England fell at the first hurdle during the last World Cup but Vaughan said they were now stronger. "We've got some real match-winners — Flintoff, Pietersen and Collingwood. These guys can win you games on their own. "At the last Cup, we might have had one or two match-winners. I think we've got as many as five now."

England's preparations suffered when James Anderson fractured the little finger of his right bowling hand during catching practice. Anderson was due to have the injury re-assessed today. If he isn't fit, the pace attack is likely to consist of Flintoff, Liam Plunkett and Jon Lewis, with spin from Panesar and Dalrymple.

New Zealand have injury concerns as well. Pace bowler Mark Gillespie, who has a shoulder problem brought on by a virus, is set to miss out and opening batsman Peter Fulton is battling a finger injury.

However, big-hitting all-rounder Jacob Oram is fit after a finger problem of his own.