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Smith demands strong start against NZ

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 1/06/2017 Ian McCullough

Skipper Steve Smith has warned Australia's players the unpredictable English weather means they'll need a flying start in the Champions Trophy opener against New Zealand on Friday.

Four years ago Australia were bundled out in the group stages, losing to England and Sri Lanka after rain washed out their second match against the Black Caps.

Smith's side enjoyed a good hit-out against Sri Lanka at a sun-baked Oval ground last Friday, chasing down 319 to win by two wickets.

However, pace spearhead Mitchell Starc, who missed that match, was unable to bowl in the second warm-up against Pakistan after rain forced the game to be abandoned after 10 overs.

Smith also sat the game out and has not played an ODI for nearly five months having been involved in Test and IPL action in India since March.

Australia are in Group A with England, Bangladesh and New Zealand, with the top two teams progressing to the semi-finals.

It means there's no room for error against Kane Williamson's side at Edgbaston on Friday.

"It would have been nice for some of the guys to have a hit and get used to the conditions we are going to have to face," Smith said.

"Guys are in good form, but it is a cut-throat tournament with only three pool games, especially here in England with the weather.

"Every game is crucial and we've got to be at our best from ball one in this first game."

Despite his lack of 50-over cricket, Smith, who averages over 60 in Tests, is confident he can comfortably adjust to the different environment.

"I feel really good, excited to play in another big tournament, these are the ones you want to play in and I am excited to be out there on Friday," he said.

"It takes a bit of time, (to adjust) we've been playing a lot of white ball cricket, which helps.

"You just have to realise 50 overs is a lot longer than 20 and rein it in a little. You bring the gears down a bit but then be able to take them back at the end of an innings."

New Zealand beat Australia 2-0 in the Chappell-Hadlee series in February, which Smith sat out.

On home soil in December, Australia eased to a comfortable 3-0 win and the skipper knows both sides will present few surprises to one another.

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