New Zealand coach Mike Hesson believes his side are now facing a far more 'scary' England team compared to the one the Blackcaps thrashed at the World Cup.
In February, New Zealand hammered England by eight wickets in Wellington en route to a World Cup final which they lost to co-hosts Australia. The Blackcaps skittled out England for just 123 on that occasion, with Tim Southee taking a New Zealand one-day international record seven for 33. New Zealand then chased down their meagre target in a mere 12.2 overs, with skipper Brendon McCullum blasting 77 in 25 balls.
But Hesson's men haven't had things all their own way during their ongoing five-match one-day international series in England. The first ODI at Edgbaston saw England make 408 for nine in a 210-run win -- both national records. New Zealand levelled the series with a 13-run Duckworth/Lewis success at The Oval but only after England, initially chasing 399 for victory, had been 345 for seven and needing 54 more runs from 37 balls when rain stopped play.
The Blackcaps, however, went 2-1 up at the Rose Bowl in Southampton on Sunday after restricting England to 302 all out. But they still needed a New Zealand record third-wicket stand of 206 between Kane Williamson (118) and Ross Taylor (110) to take them close to completing a three-wicket win which was only sealed with an over to spare.
England's team at the Rose Bowl contained just four survivors from their Wellington humiliation in skipper Eoin Morgan, batsman Joe Root, wicket-keeper Jos Buttler, and fast bowler Steven Finn.
Improving England's standing in 50-over cricket is a key aim for new director of cricket Andrew Strauss and now the likes of opener Alex Hales, all-rounder Ben Stokes, leg-spinner Adil Rashid, and left-arm paceman David Willey are being given a chance to show what they can do at international level.
Hesson, asked if England's performances in the series so far had been a surprise, given how poor they had been at a World Cup where they crashed out in the first round and didn't beat a Test nation, told reporters in Southampton on Monday: "They are a completely different team, a different team in so many ways.
"If this side was at the World Cup, I think they would certainly scare a few teams in terms of the way they play," he added. "They haven't quite nailed it yet, but you are never going to straight away. But on their day, crikey, they are dangerous," insisted Hesson ahead of the fourth ODI at Nottingham's Trent Bridge ground on Wednesday.
England have cited New Zealand as an example to follow in 50-over cricket but Hesson said: "No one owns a particular style. "I think England are playing a brand of cricket that puts you under the pump unless you are really on-song."
New Zealand too have a slightly different look to the team that played at the World Cup, with Ben Wheeler given a debut at the Rose Bowl on Sunday after fellow left-arm seamer Trent Boult was ruled out of the rest of the tour with a back injury.
Wheeler, 23, responded with an impressive three for 63, while novice left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner took one for 30 in five overs, and Hesson said: "Ben, you couldn't expect much more from a debutant, taking three of the top seven wickets and being there at the end with the bat.
"The beauty of the squad is that we trust everyone to take on key roles. We certainly gave them (Wheeler and Santner) key roles, we didn't hide them, and they stood up."