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BAN vs NZ – 1st T20I – Inexperienced NZ up for big challenge against full-strength Bangladesh in first T20I | Cricket

BAN vs NZ - 1st T20I - Inexperienced NZ up for big challenge against full-strength Bangladesh in first T20I | Cricket

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Hamish Bennett and Henry Nicholls could both start in the first T20I © AFP via Getty Images


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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.

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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 hosts are banking on the same formula with which they beat Australia. The slow and low pitches at the Shere Bangla National Stadium offers Shakib Al Hasan and Nasum Ahmed with enough biting spin with the new ball to slow down normally marauding top-order batters.

The spinners’ accuracy threatens with wickets, before Mustafizur Rahman‘s cutters grip on the surface to further stymie the batting line-up. Shoriful Islam has also impressed with his variation while offspinner Mahedi Hasan has been capable of bringing the odd breakthrough.

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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.

But they expect Mushfiqur Rahim, who was missing from the Australia series, to add stability to the middle order. Liton Das is also thrown into the mix but it will be the Shakib-Rahim-Mahmudullah trio that will bridge the top-order with the middle-order, leading into big hits in the last five overs.

New Zealand enter this territory with very little experience in their ranks. Colin de Grandhomme, Scott Kuggeleijn and captain Tom Latham are the only ones whose T20I career are in double figures. Latham, who played the last of those thirteen T20Is in 2017, has to lead from the front with runs, along with Henry Nicholls, Tom Blundell and Will Young. They will sorely miss Finn Allen, who tested positive for Covid-19 two days after arriving in Dhaka.

Their three uncapped players – Cole McConchie, Rachin Ravindra and Ben Sears – could use this as an early lesson in subcontinent conditions for the rest of their careers. McConchie is a big hitting middle-order batter who bowls offspin, a handy option given they have only one specialist spinner – Ajaz Patel – in the squad. Ravindra and Sears are much talked about as young talents in New Zealand’s cricketing circles.

The visitors have six fast bowler to choose from, with Hamish Bennett being the seniormost, as well as the only one in the side to have played in Bangladesh before, in 2010. Matt Henry joining up later in the series, as replacement for Allen, will boost their bowling attack, but until then, their batting will have to do the heavy-lifting to have a chance of winning the first T20I.

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Form guide

(last five completed matches; most recent first)

England: WLWWW
India: WWWWL

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.


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Liton Das is likely to return as opener © AFP via Getty Images


Team news

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

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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.

Stats

  • 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.

Quotes

“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.”
Bangladesh captainMahmudullah

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84

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ESPN Sports Media Ltd.




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