Bangladesh believe that this ODI series is their best opportunity to finally win in New Zealand. The first game in Dunedin in particular, when New Zealand are without two of their most experienced batsmen and captain, is going to be a golden chance for the visitors, who have also claimed that the preparation period this time in New Zealand has been their most fruitful.
But they are also without Shakib Al Hasan, and that is a big equalising factor in this series. New Zealand don’t have Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor. It is certainly a major void but the likes of Tom Latham, the stand-in captain, and openers Martin Guptill and Henry Nicholls will look to make up with their own considerable international experience. But for Bangladesh, not having Shakib is going to be a serious loss.
As much as he will be missed as a middle-order batsman, Shakib is by far their best bowler in away conditions, particularly in New Zealand.
Bangladesh do have recent form on their side and this is their favourite format of the game. They defeated West Indies 3-0 at home recently, with many of their experienced batsmen being among the runs. Still, losing to West Indies in the Test series that followed has been a cause for concern
New Zealand, meanwhile, last played an ODI series in March last year when their Australia tour was cut short by the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic. They have only played four ODIs since the 2019 World Cup.
So the series may boil down to how the two sides use their experience. And how Bangladesh tackle a rampant New Zealand pace attack that includes the in-form Trent Boult and Kyle Jamieson. They will rely a lot on the big three in Tamim Iqbal, Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah and require Liton Das, Mehidy Hasan Miraz and Mustafizur Rahman to step up and be the match-winners they have been in the past.
What could also make the difference is whether an improved Bangladesh’s pace attack can take advantage of the slight drop in experience in the New Zealand top- and middle-order.
(last five completed matches)
New Zealand LWWWL
In the spotlight
New Zealand are all set to hand an ODI debut to Devon Conway, who broke into the T20I side late last year, and already has three fifties in the format. His unbeaten 99 against Australia last month was a breakthrough moment. Conway is likely to bat at No 3, with many in New Zealand cricket excited about this 29-year old coming good.
Mushfiqur Rahim will be the fulcrum of Bangladesh’s middle-order, particularly in the absence of Shakib. He will keep wicket too, and the dual responsibility has often brought the best in him. Rahim will be expected to take the side deep into the game, and unleash from his big back-lift in the slog overs.
New Zealand will be making at least five changes to the side that played their last ODI in Australia in March last year. Williamson (elbow), Taylor (hamstring), Colin de Grandhomme (ankle) and Lockie Ferguson (back) are out with injuries while Ish Sodhi, despite his Player-of-the-Series winning performance against Australia in the T20Is recently, too hasn’t been considered. Conway, Will Young and Daryl Mitchell are likely to make their ODI debuts.
New Zealand (probable) 1 Martin Guptill, 2 Henry Nicholls, 3 Devon Conway, 4 Tom Latham (capt & wk), 5 Will Young, 6 James Neesham, 7 Daryl Mitchell, 8 Mitchell Santner, 9 Tim Southee, 10 Kyle Jamieson, 11 Trent Boult
Until Mossaddek Hossain is declared fit for the first ODI, Bangladesh will have to wait to finalise their playing XI. Among the pace bowlers, the team management may take a chance on young Hasan Mahmud early in the series.
Bangladesh (probable) 1 Tamim Iqbal (capt), 2 Liton Das, 3 Najmul Hossain Shanto, 4 Mosaddek Hossain/Mohammad Mithun, 5 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 6 Mahmudullah, 7 Soumya Sarkar, 8 Mohammad Saifuddin, 9 Mehidy Hasan Miraz, 10 Mustafizur Rahman, 11 Hasan Mahmud/Taskin Ahmed
Pitch and conditions
The side batting first has averaged 261 have won half of the ODIs at the University Oval in Dunedin. With short boundaries, it is likely to be a run-fest although there’s a chance of morning cloud cover and evening drizzle.
Stats and trivia
- It has been six years since the last time New Zealand played an ODI without both Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson.
- In the last ODI held at this ground, Tim Southee took the most expensive six-wicket haul after Mustafizur became the second Bangladesh bowler to concede more than 90 runs in an ODI.
“We have a solid fast bowling attack this time. We have a few young players who I am excited to see. They have been doing exceptionally well in the practice games. Hopefully we will have a good start tomorrow.”
Bangladesh captain Tamim Iqbal, when asked about his side’s strength on this tour.
“The pride is massive. It is an honour to be able to captain New Zealand. It is something that you dream of doing, and to be given the opportunity again is really nice. Hopefully we can start the series well.”
New Zealand captain Tom Latham, who is standing in for the injured Kane Williamson.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84