Expectations high after great prep

NEW Zealand captain Brendon McCullum declared his hand yesterday as the Black Caps prepared for the biggest day in their cricket lives since Eden Park on February 22, 1992.

That was the day New Zealand beat Australia before a packed house to get the World Cup off to a roaring start, and the result resonated around the country for the next few weeks as the Kiwis charged to the semi-finals.

Now the final pre-cup ball has been bowled and it is time to deliver on the back of a terrific preparation, McCullum knows the score.

"There's no excuses," he said yesterday ahead of today's Cup opener against Sri Lanka in Christchurch.

"We've had a great preparation."

After early-season losses to South Africa in Mt Maunganui, the Kiwis have beaten Pakistan 3-2 in the United Arab Emirates, won six and lost two of eight ODIs against Sri Lanka and the Pakistanis, and wrapped it up with an easy win over an albeit disinterested South African side at Hagley Oval in a practice game on Wednesday.

It is a very different lead-up to that of the 1992 team, which was beaten 3-0 by England immediately before the tournament.

Whereas uncertainty reigned for NZ before that Cup, this squad appears comfortable with its game and strategies, and content in the knowledge it knows how to take advantage of situations and get out of any fixes they find themselves in.

McCullum comes into the tournament as the Black Cap's trump card after a wonderful 2014 with the bat.

He has come a long way since taking on the captaincy in 2013.

"It wasn't so long ago I wasn't sure I could command a place in the team, and that can be quite challenging for a captain," he said.

"It's nice to have come through it. It got to a point where I kind of let go about what may go wrong with my game and focused on the impact I could make and what might work out. The performances have gone along from there."


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