World Cup preparations step up for the New Zealand women's team when they start an eight-game series against the West Indies at Lincoln today.
They'll play three ODIs and five T20s before the world T20 tournament in Bangladesh next month.
West Indies are no mugs and in former Auckland representative Stafanie Taylor have a world-class batsman. New Zealand captain Suzie Bates is expecting tough competition.
They split their two T20 games with the Windies in Barbados in October. Despite the absence of one of their best players, Deandra Dottin, due to a suspension, Bates - the world's third and fifth ranked batsman in ODI and T20 respectively - anticipates a good workout.
"They are one of the teams in women's world cricket that have really made massive strides in the last couple of years," she said. "Every time I see them they're getting better and better around the park."
That said, Bates, a double international who has represented basketball's Tall Ferns, has high hopes for her team.
There are four uncapped players in the squad, who will stay intact for the world tournament, including under-19 badminton international Felicity Leydon-Davis, Auckland pair Holly Huddleston and Samantha Curtis and Canterbury's Hayley Jensen.
The White Ferns have a new coach in former test wicketkeeper Warren Lees, whom Bates rates highly.
"He's definitely brought a different perspective," Bates said.
"It's just exciting, he has a very relaxed approach and wants to get the best out of people.
"He doesn't over-analyse and try to change techniques but sees the importance in making the girls feel confident to perform their skills."
New Zealand fly to Bangladesh around March 15 and have two official warmups against India and England.
The West Indies warmed up for their trip with a 52-run win over Canterbury on Thursday, with opener Kycia Knight making 64 and Taylor 57.