When India walk out into the McLean Park in Napier on Sunday to face New Zealand in the first one-day international of a five-match ODI series, there will be a sense of "OK about a year from now we will be defending our World Cup title in this country, so we better learn as much as we can, and put that confidence metre sticking to the top."
Where to Watch Live
The 1st ODI match is scheduled for a 2 pm local time (6.30 am IST) start with live coverage on Sony Six in India. The match can be live streamed in India HERE. Catch the action live online in the US HERE, while UK viewers can live stream the same HERE. Watch the match via live streaming in Africa HERE.
India did not come out with flying colours from the tour of South Africa, with the Proteas outplaying them in the one-dayers, albeit a short one, which was further interrupted by rain.
The Indian batsmen's susceptibility to quality, intense and in-your-face fast bowling came to the fore, and with the pitches yet again expected to aid the pacers, MS Dhoni and his team will look at this series as the perfect preparation to set themselves for a title defence come next year.
"It will be good for the team because we will have players who have already played in those conditions and particularly at venues where you will be playing, so overall it will be a good tour for us," Dhoni said.
Not too many in the India squad have played in New Zealand before, and so will not be buzzing from the last time the team toured New Zealand, a series which panned out pretty well for the Asian side.
With the likes of Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir overlooked yet again, the selectors have kept their faith in the next generation, a generation, which so far, have thrived in home conditions, but have struggled away from home.
With a two-match Test series also coming up, following the ODIs, India have a good chance to put the poor travellers poser to bed, while also regaining that oh so vital confidence which would have partnered up with the shaky metre after the loss to South Africa in both Tests and one-dayers.
"I think the preparations have been good," Dhoni said on Saturday. "We were given some very good facilities. The ground we were given opposite the stadium, we were given good pitches there. The practice wickets were almost like the centre wicket, so we had some good practice sessions.
"Net bowlers were also made available for us, so from the preparation point of view, it has been good. We have looked into each and every aspect of not only batting and bowling, but fielding also, which will be very crucial. So most of the areas have been covered and we have had a few days to prepare."
There are a couple of questions that remains to be answered for India, the chief one being who will bat at No.4 with Yuvraj Singh dropped from the squad after a few I-hop-against-fast-bowlers-and-lose-my-wicket performances.
Suresh Raina has been given a few opportunities of late, but has not quite made the position his own. Ajinkya Rahane has not quite had Dhoni's confidence yet in the limited overs format, but after his astute performances in the Test matches, a place in the first XI and that coveted No.4 slot could be his, especially in New Zealand conditions.
Ambati Rayudu is also in with a chance, but Dhoni insisted experiments were not going to be the order of the day, with the skipper keen on establishing a settled side. "We will see what suits us the best and then we will move ahead," Dhoni said. "As of now, after the Greg Chappell era, experimentation is something we have done away with. We don't really experiment anymore. We will give chances to a few players and hopefully they will rise up to the occasion and accept the challenges they are pushed into."
New Zealand are coming off a long series against the West Indies, in which they won the Tests and T20s, while drawing the ODI rubbers 2-2.
The Kiwis are always a dangerous side in the limited-overs format, with the team holding big-hitting matchwinners who are the envy of many a side. Add the new find Corey Anderson to the team, and New Zealand, who also have an array of capable fast bowlers, only look more potent.
"I think it will be quite nice to unleash a bit of pace in this opening game and then try and be aggressive and as hostile as we can with ball in hand," Kiwi skipper Brendon McCullum said.
"They have always been a side that is very competitive," Dhoni added. "They back each other. Fielding is something that is very important for them. They put a lot of emphasis on it and they have individuals who contribute in different ways -- bat, ball -- and they have got quite a few of them.
"So that really helps, in the shorter format especially. Whenever you see the big tournaments, they do very well, so they are a side that is very well respected. Fantastic individuals to play against."
Team news: New Zealand: The Kiwis have gone with a settled 13-man squad with Adam Milne joining a battery of quality pace bowlers.
India: Dhoni will have a few decisions to make in his playing XI. It remains to be seen whether Ishwar Pandey to Stuart Binny get a debut in the first ODI.
Expected lineups: New Zealand: Martin Guptill, Jesse Ryder, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Brendon McCullum (capt), Corey Anderson, Luke Ronchi (wk), Nathan McCullum, Kyle Mills, Tim Southee, Mitchell McClenaghan.
India: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni (capt & wk), Ajinkya Rahane, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar.