Young seamer Tim Southee has quickly won over his captain as New Zealand prepare for the one-day international cricket series against Pakistan starting in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday morning (NZT).
A solid week's work in the nets in nearby Dubai is set to be rewarded by Southee's inclusion for the first of three one-dayers between the countries.
Captain Daniel Vettori on Monday strongly indicated that the 20-year-old was in line for his first one-day appearance for New Zealand since last summer.
"Everyone recognises he has wonderful ability and he has bowled really well in training so far," Vettori said today shortly before the New Zealand side left Dubai for Abu Dhabi.
"By all accounts he bowled really well on the A tour (to India in August) and he will probably get an opportunity first up to prove that form.
"We are hoping that he can cement his place because I think when we first saw him in the New Zealand team (against England at home in early 2008) we saw what a really good and exciting bowler he can be."
Southee's impending return comes as fellow seamer Kyle Mills battles a sore shoulder, which prevented him from training yesterday.
Mills is expected to be available for selection, leaving the New Zealanders with a seam attack of Shane Bond, Mills and Southee.
Without having seen the pitch at Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Vettori also anticipates naming two spinners on a surface expected to play low and slow.
That means Otago offspinner Nathan McCullum will be used to complement Vettori.
"There will have to be a drastic change in what we expect of the wicket for us to change our minds," Vettori said.
The last action at the match venue were three games during a five-match one-day series in which Australia beat Pakistan 3-2 in April/May.
From those three games the two teams averaged just 211 per innings, with two lowscoring affairs being followed by Pakistan chasing down Australia's 250 for the loss of just three wickets.
Despite missing injured frontline players Jesse Ryder, Grant Elliott and Daryl Tuffey, the New Zealanders will feel quietly confident, having beaten Pakistan by five wickets at their last meeting, in the Champions Trophy semifinal in South Africa on October 4.
Vettori is excited to get back on the field after a difficult few weeks as controversy surrounded his team in the wake of former coach Andy Moles' resignation.
Moles terminated his contract after close to one year in the job when it emerged some senior players were unhappy with his performance.
Vettori, who has taken over the coaching duties in collaboration with assistant coach Mark O'Donnell for the time being, said Moles' departure had not been pored over by his players.
"There has been no real talk about the change in structure at all or even about who is going to be the next coach.
"I think the guys are looking firstly to cement their places in the team and win games rather than (worry about) anything else going on."
New Zealand (from): Daniel Vettori (captain), Shane Bond, Neil Broom, Ian Butler, James Franklin, Martin Guptill, Brendon McCullum, Nathan McCullum, Kyle Mills, Jacob Oram, Aaron Redmond, Tim Southee, Scott Styris, Ross Taylor, BJ Watling.
Pakistan (from): Younis Khan (captain), Abdul Razzaq, Iftikhar Anjum, Imran Farhat, Kamran Akmal, Khalid Latif, Mohammad Aamer, Mohammad Yousuf, Naved-ul-Hasan, Saeed Ajmal, Salman Butt, Shahid Afridi, Shoiab Malik, Umar Akmal, Umar Gul, Wahab Riaz.