After a pair of disappointing limited-overs series, Bangladesh will gather their strength to face hosts New Zealand in a two-match Test series. Starting Thursday at the Basin Reserve, Wellington, the series will be Bangladesh’s last chance to find some positives in the ongoing tour as they have failed to win a single match so far, losing six on the trot. However, in Tests, they are coming off a remarkable victory against England at home, winning the Dhaka Test and thus squaring the series. The visitors will look to replicate a similar performance at Wellington to kick-start their journey in whites. However, beating New Zealand in their backyard is one of the toughest asks.
Bangladesh’s Test skipper Mushfiqur Rahim, who was sitting out due to injury in the Twenty20 International (T20I) series, will rejoin the team to lead it from the front. He is among the most talented batsmen of the side and the team will need all his experience and class to succeed against the home team. Tamim Iqbal, the most accomplished Bangladesh batsman, has failed to pull off any heroics in the limited-overs and will be expected to make a change in the scenario, with a powerful performance. Taskin Ahmed and Rubel Hossain will be expected to be part of the playing XI and contribute significantly with the ball.
Full Cricket Scorecard: Bangladesh vs New Zealand 1st Test at Wellington
For New Zealand, half the task is done with the amount of confidence they have playing at home against a team they have defeated in six matches straight. Kane Williamson, the skipper, will be undoubtedly one big name to watch out for while the other will be Tom Latham, who has impressed one and all with his performance of late. The green track is expected to be a bowling paradise for Trent Boult, Tim Southee and Matt Henry. As the two teams look to face each other, here are some possible key clashes.
Kane Williamson vs Mushfiqur Rahim: The first clash that comes to mind is the one between the two captains, Williamson and Mushfiqur. Williamson is relatively less experienced of the two but he knows the conditions way better than Mushfiqur. Earlier, the Bangladesh captain has played 3 Tests in New Zealand and has failed miserably.
Williamson, on the other hand, in his brief stint as a captain has not been remarkable with captaincy strategies. The battle will be between experience as a captain and experience of playing at a venue.
Shakib Al Hasan vs Colin de Grandhomme: Shakib Al Hasan is definitely one of the most important elements in the Bangladesh side. The player not only strengthens the middle-order with his class-apart batting, but also helps his side with wickets at conditions not favourable for spinners as well. Bangladesh will depend a lot upon Shakib to win the match. Grandhomme is a new addition to the New Zealand side and plays the role of a bowling all-rounder. He has 10 First-Class hundreds and glimpses of his batting were seen during the T20I series. It will be interesting to see who helps his team with the all-round performances.
Trent Boult vs Tamim Iqbal: Tamim Iqbal had a lot of ups and downs in the last couple of months with his form. While against England he looked unstoppable, in New Zealand, his time has not been fruitful with no big knocks. In favourable conditions, facing Boult will be the biggest hurdle on his way back to good form. Who will win?
Tom Latham vs Rubel Hossain: While most had placed their bets on young sensation Mustafizur Rahman, it was actually Rubel Hossain who grabbed attention with his successful bowling in the ongoing tour. Rubel stuck to the basics and bowled with a lot of discipline to emerge among the most successful bowlers on the tour so far. Latham has played some attractive cricket in recent times and an in-form Rubel will be up against him.
Imrul Kayes vs Matt Henry: New Zealand have recently opted for Matt Henry to open bowling for the side and the bowler has done a good job with the new ball at hand. It is likely that Imrul Kayes will have to face Henry a lot more than others as he will come out to open the Bangladesh innings. Kayes’ skills will be well tested against Henry’s bowling skills, especially the short-pitched ones.
Paulami Chakraborty, a singer, dancer, artist, and photographer, loves the madness of cricket and writes about the game. She can be followed on Twitter at @Polotwitts.