New Zealand and South Africa will begin their respective build ups to the ICC World Cup starting in February next year when the two teams lock horns in a three-match One-Day International series, starting with the 1st ODI at the Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui on Tuesday.
South Africa will be seen as one of the favourites to lift the World Cup, to be jointly hosted by Australia and New Zealand, and AB De Villiers and co. will be keen to get as much match practice in these conditions as possible.
New Zealand are always a dangerous team when it comes to the big ICC tournaments, even if they have never won a World Cup, and De Villiers firmly believes the Black Caps will be one of the favourites to lift the title just like South Africa.
"I would not call them dark horses," said De Villiers. "I would say [they are] one of the favourites," said the destructive batsman. "[They're] always a very competitive ODI team. Playing on their home grounds in their country, they'll be even more competitive.
"We know what they are capable of, especially playing in these kinds of conditions. They haven't won a big tournament for a while so they must be very motivated to do well. We are expecting a very competitive series.
"[They are] very used to the conditions over here in New Zealand and Australia. They will have a lot of home support with the games here, even in Australia as well.
"It is a short flight over there. They will have a lot of people right behind them and wanting them to do well. [They] haven't won a World Cup so they will be desperate to do well."
While South Africa's batting lineup is pretty set, New Zealand will make a few experiments with all-rounder Jimmy Neesham set to be given the opener's role in the 1st ODI alongside Martin Guptill.
"He [Neesham] will get an opportunity tomorrow at the top of the order," New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum said on Monday. "He spent about three hours batting in the nets so he should be ready
"He's an exciting player and it's not an easy role that, especially against a team like South Africa, with their quick bowling options.
"I think he's got something a little bit special and with Kane [Williamson] under a bit of a cloud with his bowling we still need to create a bowling option in the top five. Until you put people in those positions you're not 100 percent sure how they're going to respond.
"For me it's about how he goes about constructing his innings. If we can get that destructive kind of player at the top, playing with some freedom, then that goes a long way in assisting us with the rest of our lineup."
Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor have been ruled out of the first ODI and series respectively, so New Zealand will give Tom Latham and Dean Brownlie an opportunity. It will be interesting to see how the two Kiwi batsmen respond to what will be an hostile South Africa bowling attack.
Where to Watch Live
The 1st ODI is scheduled to begin at 10.30 am local time (3 am IST, 10.30 pm BST, 5.30 pm ET (both Monday). There is no live coverage on TV in India. Viewers in the UK can catch the action on Sky Sports 2, with the live streaming option on Sky Sports Online or Sky Go.
Audience in South Africa and Sub Saharan Africa can watch the match live on SuperSport, while the match can also be watched via live streaming online on SuperSport online. Australia viewers can catch the action on Fox Sports or their online option, while New Zealand viewers can watch the match Sky Sport 2 NZ, or via a live stream on Sky Go NZ.