Opportunity for NZ’s young, inexperienced players to make a mark in tough conditions
Like most Bangladesh-New Zealand bilateral contests, the one beginning on Wednesday in Dhaka has the familiar one-sided feel to it. Pitches and weather have often contributed to it here, where the visitors have won just one out of their last eleven bilateral matches. But this time New Zealand’s decision to send a completely different team on their Bangladesh tour – to the one that will play the T20 World Cup – tilts the odds further towards the home side.
It is not just their lack of experience, although it is hard to miss Bangladesh’s 602 caps in T20Is in the current squad compared to New Zealand’s hundred. The home side are generally considered masters of their own and known conditions. Much stronger New Zealand sides have capitulated in white-ball matches in 2010 and 2013.
Bangladesh are also a confident side these days, after crushing Australia 4-1 in the T20I series in August, where their bowling bailed their batters out more times than not.
Bangladesh are as much favorites at home as New Zealand are in their backyard against Bangladesh, and this series will be an occasion to exact revenge for the battering March tour where New Zealand won all six white-ball matches.
The home side has glitches in the opening partnership and a misfiring lower order. Soumya Sarkar and Mohammad Naim struggled against Australia although they added a Bangladesh record 102-run opening stand against Zimbabwe in July.
(last five completed matches; most recent first)
Players to watch
Mushfiqur Rahim is the sort of person who would be fired up to make up for missing the Australia series due to strict quarantine protocols. He will be a welcome addition to the middle order that has to do the heavy lifting when the top-order has looked inconsistent.
Injury robbed Colin de Grandhomme crucial time in their last home season, but this Bangladesh tour could be a real opportunity for him to remind the selectors of his quality. de Grandhomme is also fresh from playing in the Hundred, although the pitches here will be vastly different.
For Liton to make the cut, Bangladesh have to drop Soumya Sarkar, who has been the least successful among the three openers. Bangladesh had an injury scare during Monday’s training when Afif Hossain suffered a hand injury during nets, but it is believed not to be serious.
Bangladesh (probable): 1 Mohammad Naim, 2 Liton Das, 3 Shakib Al Hasan, 4 Mushfiqur Rahim, 5 Mahmudullah (capt), 6 Nurul Hasan (wk), 7 Afif Hossain, 8 Mahedi Hasan, 9 Shoriful Islam, 10 Mustafizur Rahman, 11 Nasum Ahmed
New Zealand will make at least ten changes to the side that last played a T20I. Patel could lead a three-man spin attack which would mean debuts for McConchie and Ravindra. For the first game at least, they could opt for experience over youth in the pace attack.
New Zealand (probable): 1 Henry Nicholls, 2 Will Young, 3 Rachin Ravindra, 4 Tom Latham (capt & wk), 5 Tom Blundell, 6 Cole McConchie, 7 Colin de Grandhomme, 8 Doug Bracewell, 9 Scott Kuggeleijn, 10 Hamish Bennett, 11 Ajaz Patel
Pitch and conditions
The low and slow pitches are likely to continue where teams batting first have averaged around 125 in the previous T20I series. There’s a slight possibility of rain.
- Bennett is the only one in this squad to have played international cricket in Bangladesh, but Sears and Ravindra too have toured before to play in the Under-19 World Cup in 2016.
- Will Young is the only New Zealand player in the current side who played their last T20I in April.
“There are a lot of allrounders in the group, which makes it easier to find the right combination. We have some new guys in the group, some experienced and some inexperienced, so a mixture of that makes for an exciting tour.”
New Zealand captain Tom Latham
“The wicket is tough to predict in Dhaka at any time but I feel it is better to have a positive mindset. We can adjust during the match if we see it is different than what we predicted, rather than going into the game with a mindset that it will be a 110-120 wicket. That would be a negative mindset. If we can execute our plans, we will get a good score here.”
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84