Australia’s Steve Smith bats in the nets during a practice session
Australia’s Steve Smith bats in the nets during a practice session at the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium in Dharamsala on October 27, 2023. Image Credit: AFP

Dharamsala: Australia skipper Pat Cummins believes Saturday's World Cup clash with New Zealand will be a battle between "mates" as the push for semi-final places enters a critical phase.

Five-time champions Australia are back on track for a last-four spot having won three matches on the trot after an unimpressive start which saw them lose their first two games.

New Zealand, runners-up in the last two World Cups, have the better record so far with four wins from five games.

Australia, however, have the upper hand when it comes to clashes at World Cups over the years, winning eight of the 11 match-ups.

"I think most of the Kiwis are pretty placid and we're pretty similar," said Cummins on Friday on the eve of the game taking place in the Himalayan venue of Dharamsala.

"We've played a lot of cricket with these guys and some of them are really good mates. If anything, it makes you want to beat your mates even more. It will be intense out there."

In 2015, New Zealand edged a low-scoring group game by one wicket in Auckland before Australia gained revenge with a seven-wicket stroll in the final.

Mitchell Starc, David Warner, Glenn Maxwell, Steve Smith and Josh Hazlewood are all survivors from the 2015 final. Cummins played in the group game.

Current New Zealand squad members Kane Williamson, Trent Boult, Matt Henry and Tim Southee also played that final.

"It always seems like there's great contests. And on a personal note, as well, we know a lot of the New Zealand guys, we have played a lot against them and with them. So, it's always good fun," added Cummins.

Cummins said he was delighted by Australia over-coming early losses at this World Cup to India and South Africa.

They have since seen off Sri Lanka, Pakistan and then the Netherlands by a huge 309 runs.

"I think in the first two games not only did we not win, but I think we didn't really nail the style that we wanted to play," said the captain.

"I think in the last few games you've seen us be a bit more aggressive - batting and bowling."

Most of the aggression in the rout of the Dutch came from Glenn Maxwell who hit the fastest World Cup century off just 40 balls in New Delhi on Wednesday.

Cummins shared a 103-run partnership with Maxwell, contributing only eight runs.

"Yeah, that was just insane the other night," said Cummins.

"I was lucky to be down at the other end, see it first-hand, the creativity that he seems to have, to find boundaries in just different spots, just incredible. He's a superstar."