WELLINGTON – New Zealand have put a line under their Test series win over Sri Lanka and switched to World Cup mode with the first of three one-day internationals in Tauranga on Thursday.
"It's really now about looking ahead to the World Cup, being clear on the game plans we want to use," coach Gary Stead said after New Zealand beat Sri Lanka 1-0 in the Test series to move up to third in the rankings behind India and England.
New Zealand, who are also third in the ODI rankings, face eighth-ranked Sri Lanka in the opening round of the World Cup in Cardiff in June.
Stead described the home ODI series against Sri Lanka as being "about tweaking, looking at the style of play and how we want to play and looking at the options who fit those roles as well. It's definitely a trial period still".
Both sides have made a number of changes from their Test line-up, with Sri Lanka bringing in six new faces including Lasith Malinga, while New Zealand have brought back big-hitting Martin Guptill and are resting regulars Tom Latham and Colin de Grandhomme.
With de Grandhomme out and Corey Anderson injured, Jimmy Neesham and Doug Bracewell have been recalled as all-rounder options.
At the World Cup in England and Wales, 300-plus totals are expected to be the norm and Stead wanted "to see more of the all-rounders" as well as back up wicketkeeper Tim Seifert.
It's been a year since Guptill last played for New Zealand and four years since he lit up the last World Cup when he blasted an unbeaten 237 off 163 balls against the West Indies.
The tall opener said he doubts his role will change under new coach Stead and he will be tasked with "having a bit of fun" at the top of the order.
"Pretty much business as usual to be honest, I don't see my role changing too much in the side," he said.
"I haven't played for New Zealand since last summer which is quite a long time ago so to be back here is extremely exciting and I'm looking forward to getting back into it."
Sri Lanka have bolstered their side with return of the unorthodox seamer Malinga along with Kusal Perera, Asela Gunaratne, Seekkuge Prasanna, Thisara Perera and Dasun Shanaka.
The 35-year-old Malinga will captain the limited-overs side for the first time in two years after injuries cost him his place in the squad.AFP