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September 9, 2002 | 1032 IST

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Confident Kiwis arrive in Sri Lanka

New Zealand arrived in Sri Lanka on Sunday in a confident mood to defend their ICC Champions Trophy.

"A successful unbeaten four-match tour of Australia has boosted spirits", said captain Stephen Fleming.

"The preparations in Australia were very good," he said. "It is an honour to come back as defending champions."

New Zealand are up against world champions Australia in their first match on September 15 in an important dress rehearsal for next year's World Cup in South Africa.

"We know we have to be at the top of our game to compete with them," Fleming told a news conference.

He said New Zealand arrived early to get used to the heat and to have practice games against South Africa on Wednesday and Zimbabwe on Thursday.

The first team to arrive were the West Windies, who have a tough opening match against South Africa on Friday.

"We know we have to be at our best to beat South Africa," said Windies manager Ricky Skerritt.

The tournament starts on Thursday with hosts Sri Lanka meeting Pakistan in a day/night match.

The final is on September 29.

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