New Zealand’s Mitchell Santner (C), Jimmy Neesham (R) and Matt Henry
New Zealand’s Mitchell Santner (C), Jimmy Neesham (R) and Matt Henry (L) attend a practice session at the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium in Dharamsala on October 26, 2023. Image Credit: AFP

Dharamsala: New Zealand captain Tom Latham said Australia had reverted to type following a shaky start as the trans-Tasman rivals geared up for a World Cup clash in Dharamsala on Saturday.

Five-times champions Australia started this edition with consecutive defeats, by unbeaten hosts India and title contenders South Africa.

But they have since won three games in a row and head into this weekend's encounter following a World Cup record 309-run rout of the Netherlands, which included Glenn Maxwell's 40-ball century - the quickest at any World Cup.

New Zealand, by contrast, started with four straight wins before their perfect record ended with a four-wicket loss to India, the only side in the 10-team tournament still to lose after five rounds of matches.

Australia have had the better of New Zealand at the World Cup, winning eight of 11 matches, including the 2015 final and also triumphing by seven wickets four years earlier in Nagpur when India last staged the showpiece event.

"The trans-Tasman rivalry is really special and I think that's not just cricket, that's obviously for all sports," Latham told a pre-match press conference on Friday.

"Even in the World Cup and over here in India obviously a long way from home it's another special occasion," he said.

As for the form of Pat Cummins's men, he added: "They're obviously playing some fantastic cricket at the moment. They didn't probably start as well as they would have liked, but I think the form they've shown in probably the last three games - that's obviously the Australia that we know."

New Zealand spinner Mitchell Santner is one of the tournament's leading bowlers, with 12 wickets at an average of under 17.

"Obviously conditions back home obviously don't suit spin as much," said Latham. "It's another great opportunity for him tomorrow and hopefully he can stand up again."

Kane Williamson, New Zealand's regular captain, has featured just once at this World Cup, retiring hurt on 78 against Bangladesh when struck by a throw while running between the wickets that left him with a broken thumb.

That was Williamson's first match in seven months following a serious knee injury, with Latham saying Friday that the star batsman remained "a work in progress".

New Zealand are about to finish a five-day break between games with the squad using some of that time to visit the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader, at his Dharamsala base.

Asked what had been discussed with the Buddhist monk, Latham replied: "Not field placements!"

He added: "It was obviously a really special time heading up there and having a look around the monastery...I think everyone that went, I'm sure in years to come they'll think this was an amazing experience."