Bangladesh seek turnaround
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 Guptill has been replaced by Neil Broom, who made scores of 109 and 97 respectively in the second and third ODIs.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