New Zealand must be disciplined in their play if they are to enjoy success in the opening Test against Zimbabwe in Bulawayo, according to coach Mike Hesson.
The Black Caps are preparing for their first Test series in Zimbabwe since 2011 and are favourites for the two matches given their standing in the world game.
Zimbabwe may have lost all three Tests to India earlier this year in Harare, but Hesson is taking nothing for granted and stressed the importance of his side maintaining their focus.
"The last time we played Test cricket in Bulawayo it was well fought, so we also expect a tough series in the test matches this time around," he told a media conference.
"I think the conditions will pose many challenges.
"Zimbabwe's players are obviously familiar with the nature of the surface, which I think is going to be relatively slow.
"Taking 20 wickets will be a challenge. Our bowling needs to be very disciplined."
Kane Williamson takes charge of the five-day side for the first time since the retirement of Brendan McCullum, and he will look to make a positive start to his tenure as captain, with New Zealand seeking their first Test win since December 2015.
Zimbabwe also have a new man at the helm for the opening clash of the Black Caps' tour, Graeme Cremer chosen to lead the side after Hamilton Masakadza was relieved of the captaincy in May.
Masakadza remains in the hosts' squad but their ranks have been depleted by injury. Opener Tino Mawoyo is the latest casualty with a thumb injury, the 30-year-old joining Tinashe Panyangara (back) and Tendai Chatara (ankle) on the sidelines.
Key Opta Stats:
- New Zealand have never lost a Test match to Zimbabwe (W9 D6).
- The Black Caps have only claimed one victory in their last eight Test matches to have been played in Africa; that solitary win did come in Bulawayo however (D1 L6).
- Zimbabwe have lost 17 of their last 20 Tests heading into this contest (W3).
- Trent Boult is three wickets away from becoming only the 7th bowler to take 150 in Tests for New Zealand.
- Kane Williamson's Test average in Africa is 26.7 (six innings); the lowest rate he's managed in a continent to date.