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In-form NZ to dig deep in Australia: coach

By AAP Newswire

Scrap, fight and don't give an inch. New Zealand may be riding high and ranked three places above Australia in Test cricket but they're adopting a defiant little brother approach to reclaiming the Trans-Tasman trophy.

The Black Caps have moulded arguably their finest-ever Test team but they refuse to talk up their chances of knocking over Tim Paine's men on Australian soil in the looming three-match series.

Coach Gary Stead has instead doffed his cap to the quality of the revitalised home side.

He has warned his team to ignore their own ICC ranking of second, which was further cemented by the home series win over England, sealed with a draw in the second Test in Hamilton on Tuesday.

An irresistible force on home soil, New Zealand have always found life tougher on the other side of the Tasman Sea, where their lone series win was achieved in 1985-86.

Stead will bring his players back to earth before they depart for Perth on Saturday, five days out from the first Test under lights at Optus Stadium.

"We're under no illusion that Australia are playing really good cricket at the moment. They appear to be somewhere back to their best," Stead said.

"Our challenge will be to stand up to make sure we're in that fight for long periods.

"We ask it of our players all the time but we need to be somewhere near our very best to beat the best teams and compete with them.

"If we're in that frame of mind and we can take the games deep, who knows what can happen?"

What is predicted to be a bouncy Perth pitch represents arguably New Zealand's most difficult assignment, particularly if injured stars Trent Boult and/or Colin de Grandhomme haven't recovered.

Their prospects should improve in more Kiwi-like conditions at the MCG and SCG after Christmas.

"I think one of the things that makes me really proud, that I've seen in the last 14 to 15 months with the Black Caps is their ability to adapt," Stead said.

"If you look at some of the challenges that have been in front of the team, winning against Pakistan (in the UAE), World Cups (reaching successive finals), things like that, then I guess the team's found a way to adapt to what's in front of them."

One man who backs a possible boilover is beaten England captain Joe Root, whose team drew 2-2 at home to Australia before their 1-0 loss in New Zealand.

"I think (New Zealand) have got all the tools that can be successful out there for sure," Root said.