England's improved form will be sorely tested if New Zealand play 'no fear' cricket in this week's Test series decider, says Paul Collingwood.
The teams travel to Auckland for Thursday's third and final Test deadlocked at 0-0 after rain washed out the final day's play of the second Test in Wellington.
After rallying to draw the opening Test having been bowled out for 167 in their first innings, England earned the upper hand at the Basin Reserve as Nick Compton and Jonathan Trott contributed first innings centuries and Stuart Broad helped the tourists to enforce the follow-on by taking 6-51.
But England were ultimately left frustrated as the weather intervened to end the contest with the hosts 162-2 in their second innings, some 49 runs shy of making the visitors bat again.
Looking ahead to Auckland, former England all-rounder Collingwood told Sky Sports: "It's pretty much a one-Test series, now. England will go into the third Test with a lot of confidence because of how well they've done in Wellington.
"Compton and Trott have scored runs and Broad has taken wickets - everything is starting to come together for England.
"But you've got this equation where it's one Test match and winner takes all. England are supposed to beat New Zealand in New Zealand but New Zealand will go out there with no fear and just think 'hang on, we've got a chance of winning a Test series here'."
The Durham veteran, who led England to ICC World Twenty20 glory in 2010, added: "This England team is the one that will go into the Ashes - they've found the team now. Nick Compton has scored runs so they don't need to go looking any more.
"They need to get the confidence levels up, get the boys playing well and confident in the nets and the results will come. I think England will be too strong for New Zealand, but as I said, New Zealand can go out there with no fear."
Former England captain Alec Stewart has predicted from the off that England will win this series but he told Sky Sports that Alastair Cook's side could find themselves up against it in Auckland if they lose the toss because of the nature of the surface at Eden Park.
"It's a drop-in pitch and sometimes they will start damp and then flatten out, so if England are on the wrong end of the toss and get thrown in on a seaming pitch they could get rolled for a low score," reflected Stewart.
"It has happened before on these drop-in pitches and then the side batting second posts a big total and straight away you are under pressure.
"So it's not a foregone conclusion that England will win the series. Before a ball had been bowled I expected England to win it 2-0 but weather has played a part in this game and they didn't play very well in the first Test match. It's a one Test match series now and anything can happen.
"Man-for-man England are better but that doesn't mean they will win this last Test match."