Bangladesh seek turn­around

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

BANGLADESH will hope the new year brings a change in for­tunes as they get set for a three-match Twenty20 In­ter­na­tional se­ries against New Zealand be­gin­ning in Napier today.

New Zealand be­gin 2017 high on con­fi­dence af­ter white­wash­ing their op­po­nents 3-0 in the ODI se­ries late last month. Their form, cou­pled with fa­mil­iar­ity with con­di­tions, makes them the favourite for the T20 leg of the tour as well.

What will make the se­ries in­ter­est­ing is that both teams are re­turn­ing to the T20 for­mat for the first time since the ICC World T20 in In­dia in MarchApril 2016. While Bangladesh had a for­get­table tour­na­ment and ex­ited in the league stage, the Ki­wis im­pressed de­spite a semi­fi­nal loss to Eng­land.

New Zealand re­ceived a blow when Martin Gup­till was ruled out of the se­ries af­ter sus­tain­ing a ham­string in­jury while run­ning be­tween the wick­ets in the third ODI in Nel­son. Gup­till was forced to re­tire hurt on six, and will take up to four weeks to re­cover com­pletely.

The hosts, how­ever, have form and fire­power in their ranks. Gup­till has been re­placed by Neil Broom, who made scores of 109 and 97 re­spec­tively in the sec­ond and third ODIs. Kane Wil­liamson, the cap­tain, struck form in the last game as well, mak­ing an un­beaten 95 to help New Zealand seal a chase of 237 along with Broom.

New Zealand also have fresh faces in Tom Bruce and Ben Wheeler, who have got maiden T20I call-ups. Bruce, the bats­man, has been se­lected for New Zealand for the first time while Wheeler, an all-rounder, has al­ready played six ODIs.

On the bowl­ing front, Tim Southee has been rested for the en­tire se­ries while Trent Boult will take a break for the first game. Corey An­der­son will con­tinue to play as a spe­cial­ist bats­man, given his dodgy back.

Bangladesh have made a cou­ple of changes from the ODI squad as well, with Shu­va­gata Hom and Tai­jul Is­lam com­ing in for Tan­bir Hay­der and Me­hedi Hasan. De­spite the tough start to the tour, Mashrafe Mor­taza’s men will be­lieve they have a bet­ter chance in the shorter for­mat. Even in the ODIs, Bangladesh showed sparks of bril­liance but missed op­por­tu­ni­ties. Both sides had mixed re­turns in 2016, and will be rar­ing to kick-start 2017 on a pos­i­tive note. – ANA

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