New Zealand's skipper Tom Latham
New Zealand's skipper Tom Latham seen during a practice session ahead of their match against India in the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023, at Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium, in Dharamsala on Saturday. Image Credit: REUTERS

Dharamsala: New Zealand skipper Tom Latham on Saturday said hosts India have been playing "fantastic cricket" and the Kiwis will need to adapt quickly to win the battle of World Cup table-toppers.

Both teams come into the contest unbeaten in their four matches and now meet in the Himalayan hill town of Dharamsala to get ahead of each other in the race to the semi-finals.

New Zealand have an edge over India in World Cup match-ups with a 5-3 advantage and knocked out the much-fancied team in the semi-finals of the last edition in 2019.

"I'm not sure to be honest," Latham, who is leading the side in the absence of the injured Kane Williamson, said on his team's good record against India at the 50-over showpiece.

"They're a fantastic team. They've been playing some great cricket for a long period of time. We've had some great contests in ICC events, but also in bilateral series, whether that be home or away."

New Zealand reached the final of the last two World Cups but lost to Australia in 2015 and then England four years ago.

"Being adaptable is probably one of the most important things for us as a group and trying to do that as quick as possible," Latham told reporters.

"Obviously with this format you play everyone once which is unique to 2015 where it was pool play."

Latham, a wicketkeeper-batsman, added: "So yeah, again we're in India, we're offered different conditions that we're used to. So, adaptability, sticking to our plan as best you can."

'Good luck All Blacks'

New Zealand's previous two matches have been in hot and humid Chennai but the action now shifts to the winter capital of the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh.

New Zealand have bowling depth and their seamers including Trent Boult, Matt Henry and Lockie Ferguson shared six wickets in the last win over Afghanistan.

"I think there's many factors that lead into a game. I don't think it's one specific area that you can nail down," said Latham.

"But as you said, India's top order have been fantastic this tournament. And again, our bowling attack has done a really good job up front as well. So that's going to be a great contest with bat and ball and obviously vice versa with Indian seamers in our top order."

Latham confirmed speedster Tim Southee will be available for the key match.

On Williamson, who is nursing a fractured thumb, Latham said, "fingers crossed he'll be available for later on in the tournament".

Left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner, who plays for Indian Premier League side Chennai Super Kings, leads the bowling chart in the tournament so far with 11 wickets and Latham said the team will "lean" on his experience.

Latham also wished the All Blacks good luck for the Rugby World Cup final in Paris next week after he stayed up late to watch their semi-final win over Argentina.

"Yeah, obviously I definitely stayed up for the All Blacks and watched them," said Latham.

"It was a great contest, obviously Kiwis support each other wherever that may be around the world and we're certainly no different in supporting the All Blacks and obviously we've had so much support back home for us here and this World Cup as well."