Napier: Bangladesh will hope the new year brings a change in fortunes as it gets set for a three-match Twenty20 International (T20I) series against New Zealand beginning in Napier on Tuesday.
New Zealand begins 2017 high on confidence after whitewashing its opponent 3-0 in the One-Day International series late last month. Its form, coupled with familiarity with conditions, makes it the favourite for the T20I 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 March-April 2016. While Bangladesh had a forgettable tournament and exited in the league stage, New Zealand was impressive 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.
The host, however, has form and firepower in its 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 Guptill has been replaced by Neil Broom, who made scores of 109 and 97 respectively in the second and third ODIs.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 has 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 allrounder, 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 has 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 before missing out on key opportunities. The second ODI in Nelson was a case in point - Bangladesh was cruising at 105 for 1 in its chase of 252 before collapsing to 184 all out.
Tamim Iqbal, Shakib Al Hasan, Imrul Kayes and Mosaddek Hossain had made a half-century each during the ODI series, and Bangladesh will hope they can fire together. Soumya Sarkar, although dropped after making just one run in the first game, is an attacking option as well.
Bangladesh's pace line-up includes Rubel Hossain, although he didn't play any of the three ODIs. Mustafizur Rahman will be a massive threat in this format, while Taskin Ahmed and Mortaza will complete the pace attack.
Both sides had mixed returns in 2016, and will be raring to kick-start 2017 on a positive note.
New Zealand: Kane Williamson (Capt.), Corey Anderson, Trent Boult, Tom Bruce, Colin de Grandhomme, Lockie Ferguson, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Colin Munro, Jimmy Neesham, Luke Ronchi (wk), Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Ben Wheeler
Bangladesh: Mashrafe Mortaza (capt.), Shakib Al Hasan, Imrul Kayes, Mahmudullah, Mosaddek Hossain, Mustafizur Rahman, Nurul Hasan (wk), Rubel Hossain, Sabbir Rahman, Shuvagata Hom, Soumya Sarkar, Subashis Roy, Taijul Islam, Tamim Iqbal, Taskin Ahmed
Stats and trivia
Tuesday, January 3, 2017
Start time 1900 local (0600 GMT)