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Guptill is set for a huge Champions Trophy // Getty

Guptill NZ's white-ball best: Williamson

Black Caps opener is the new Brendon McCullum at the top of the order

Martin Guptill has become New Zealand's premier one-day international player and can ignite their batting at the Champions Trophy, skipper Kane Williamson believes.

The Black Caps face an early litmus test in Birmingham on Friday, when they lock horns with a full-strength Australian side.

Counterpart Steve Smith and opener David Warner both skipped the 2-0 series loss on New Zealand soil four months ago, a fact not lost on Williamson.

He says limiting Australia's batting will be a tall order, meaning they will need to score plenty of runs themselves.

Williamson reckons opener Guptill has taken his controlled hitting to another level since former skipper Brendon McCullum's retirement 16 months ago.

That departure left a gaping hole at the top of the order which Williamson worried at the time would be hard to fill.

"Brendon was probably the most destructive batter, especially in his last couple of years, in the white ball formats," Williamson said.

"Players move on, they retire, and your team takes a slightly different shape.

"Martin Guptill's possibly our best white ball cricketer. He's very destructive and has been playing very good cricket. Hopefully he can continue that."

Big Four staying on leash for now: Smith

Guptill's opening partner for the Edgbaston clash will be either slick-scoring veteran Luke Ronchi or the more reliable Test opener, Tom Latham.

Whoever plays will probably also don the wicketkeeping gloves while the other will be omitted.

Williamson says a decision will be made once conditions are assessed.

Injury won't play a part, with Latham having shaken off a foot niggle while knee problems for allrounder Jimmy Neesham and seamer Mitchell McClenaghan are also behind them.

Williamson doesn't expect the team's unstable build-up to cause rustiness.

He was among several players to arrive late following stints in the Indian Premier League while others were part of a weakened Black Caps squad involved in tri-series in Dublin involving Ireland and Bangladesh.

"It is what it is. We've had a number of guys involved in cricket, which is the main thing," Williamson said.

"It's about trying to be as smart as you can be in the conditions presented.

"It's a one-off fixture and it's important that we start the tournament strong."


Champions Trophy 2017 Guide

AUSTRALIA SQUAD: Steve Smith (c), David Warner, Pat Cummins, Aaron Finch, John Hastings, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Moises Henriques, Chris Lynn, Glenn Maxwell, James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade, Adam Zampa

Other squads: Every Champions Trophy squad


Schedule


1 JuneEngland beat Bangladesh by eight wickets

2 JuneAustralia v New Zealand, Edgbaston (D)

3 JuneSri Lanka v South Africa, The Oval (D)

4 JuneIndia v Pakistan, Edgbaston (D)

5 JuneAustralia v Bangladesh, The Oval (D/N)

6 JuneEngland v New Zealand, Cardiff (D)

7 JunePakistan v South Africa, Edgbaston (D/N)

8 JuneIndia v Sri Lanka, The Oval (D)

9 JuneNew Zealand v Bangladesh, Cardiff (D)

10 JuneEngland v Australia, Edgbaston (D)

11 JuneIndia v South Africa, The Oval (D)

12 JuneSri Lanka v Pakistan, Cardiff (D)

14 JuneFirst semi-final (A1 v B2), Cardiff (D)

15 JuneSecond semi-final (A2 v B1), Edgbaston (D)

18 JuneFinal, The Oval (D)


19 June – Reserve day (D)


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