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Kiwis encouraged by KP absence
Kevin Pietersen's injury-enforced absence is a heartening factor for New Zealand as they try to "create history" in the final Test at Eden Park.
England have not lost a Test series in New Zealand for almost 30 years but, after draws in Dunedin and Wellington, are only one match away from that eventuality. Pietersen will not feature in the third Test due to a knee injury, so Jonny Bairstow will get his chance.
"Pietersen is one of those who can take the game away from you pretty quickly - so even though he wasn't at his best in this series, he was still able to make an impact in the last Test," New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum said. "From their point of view, they still have some good options - but they certainly aren't Kevin Pietersen."
The Kiwis are emboldened by their own efforts so far.
"The confidence within the group is building nicely, but there's also a realism that we will have to perform outstandingly well for five days," McCullum added, noting that England have twice come out on top when the limited-overs legs of their tour culminated in decisive last matches - as the Test series now does.
"They stepped up on those previous two deciders, and we went missing, so this will be a good challenge to see if we've progressed as a team. There's an opportunity to create history, so we'll be turning our intentions to how we can best get ourselves in front."
He has certainly identified an improvement from his team.
"We are treading in the right direction," he said.
"We were all hurting as much as, if not more than, the fans after the South Africa Test series - and since that series, the players have responded not just in short-form cricket but also in this series against an outstanding English team.
"That's why this series so far has been really good for us, but we know we will be judged on how we finish."