New Zealand look to lay to rest the ghosts of 2010
Match factsOctober 9-13, 2013
Start time 0930 local (0330 GMT)
Big PictureAs far as cricket contests are concerned, New Zealand taking on Bangladesh doesn't quite set the pulse of the average cricket fan racing. One out of the nine Test matches between these teams has been a draw. New Zealand have won the other eight, five of them being innings victories. So why bother about two Tests between the teams?
The answer lies in Bangladesh's 4-0 win against the same opposition in an ODI series three years ago, and the impact of it on their psyche. Shakib Al Hasan rose as a world-class allrounder after he picked up two Man-of-the-Match awards and the Man of the Series for doing the job with bat, ball and his captaincy in that series. It was Bangladesh's breakthrough performance on the world stage, despite their once-in-a-while one-day wins over other Test-playing nations. And although it was just ODIs, it has given them the confidence to hold up their head against an opposition that has often annihilated them.
In the intervening period, since October 2010, Bangladesh and New Zealand have met once in the 2012 World Twenty20s, when Brendon McCullum took as much revenge as can be fitted into a 58-ball 123. But the ghosts of 0-4 hover over New Zealand, as can be seen in their preparation ahead of the series. They spent some time in Sri Lanka to train, while some of their players have been touring India too with the A team. Their fine-tuning was disrupted by rain in Chittagong, though, with the three-day practice match completely washed out.
Their Test form in 2013 has been patchy, albeit against superior opposition: they've had a 0-2 defeat to England back in May, drew the previous series at home, also against England, and had lost the one previous to South Africa.
Bangladesh have been going through a progressive phase over the last two years, particularly under Mushfiqur Rahim. They have won their previous Test match, against Zimbabwe, which helped them draw the series after getting crushed in the first game of the series. The middle order has been firing almost regularly while Tamim Iqbal has always been a threat at the top. Robiul Islam was in form in Zimbabwe, bowling more than any Bangladesh fast bowler had done in one series and ending up with the Man-of-the-Series trophy for his sustained pressure. Shakib will be key but don't count out Nasir Hossain and Mushfiqur.
New Zealand have the likes of Kane Williamson and Hamish Rutherford as their new force, but the likes of Brendon McCullum and Ross Taylor would have to be really forceful if they are to start the series well.
Form guideBangladesh WLLDL (last five matches, most recent first)
New Zealand LLDDD
Players to watchKane Williamson has had steady growth as a batsman since his Test debut in 2010. This year hasn't been particularly good for him however, averaging 28.16 in 13 innings. He hasn't scored a hundred yet, though he fell nine runs short against England in Auckland. Bangladesh was the scene of his first ODI hundred, so this should be a great place to rectify an average year so far.
Robiul Islam, after his success in Zimbabwe, will be tested in home conditions, where his natural movement is not likely to be assisted by overhead conditions or the pitches. He has also just recovered from two leg injuries. But form is on his side and expect a lot of heart from his end.
Team newsNew Zealand's last Test match was in England in late May, where conditions dictated that they use four fast bowlers. Here, Tim Southee won't be one of them as he is recovering from ankle surgery. Opener Martin Guptill too is out with an injury. Left-arm spinner Bruce Martin will be a shoe-in in these conditions while legspinner Ish Sodhi could debut to give them a second spin option. BJ Watling is likely to take over wicketkeeping duties from captain Brendon McCullum. McCullum also hinted at it being a toss up between Corey Anderson, whose left-arm pace coupled with his batting ability make him an all-round option, and batsman Dean Brownlie.
New Zealand (probable): 1 Peter Fulton, 2 Hamish Rutherford, 3 Kane Williamson, 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Brendon McCullum (capt), 6 Dean Brownlie/Corey Anderson 7 BJ Watling (wk), 8 Neil Wagner, 9 Doug Bracewell/Ish Sodhi, 10 Trent Boult, 11 Bruce Martin
In Mohammad Ashraful's absence, Bangladesh will have to post someone new at No 3, with Marshall Ayub tipped to make his debut. Either Naeem Islam or Mominul Haque will play at No 4. Left-arm spinner Abdur Razzak too could be making a Test comeback after two years if Bangladesh want to take advantage of the visitors' right-handed middle-order.
Bangladesh (probable): 1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Anamul Haque, 3 Marshall Ayub, 4 Mominul Haque/Naeem Islam, 5 Mushfiqur Rahim (capt & wk), 6 Shakib Al Hasan, 7 Nasir Hossain, 8 Mahmudullah, 9 Sohag Gazi/Abdur Razzak, 10 Robiul Islam, 11 Rubel Hossain
Pitch and conditionsThe playing square at this venue is brand new. In fact, the entire outfield has been relaid to put in a drainage system. The ground has been raised 2ft, so that water can quickly drain away. Both sides reckon the surface will be dry and helpful for spinners.
After a sunny, clear couple of days, there was some rain on the evening before the game. There's a 50% chance of rain on the opening day, the forecast is clear for the second and third day, but then there's more rain forecast for the weekend.*
Stats and trivia
- There are only two survivors in the New Zealand team from the thrilling 2008 Chittagong Test between these two sides. The two, Brendon McCullum and Ross Taylor, got out cheaply in both innings there
- Mushfiqur Rahim is just seven runs short of 2,000 Test runs. Shakib Al Hasan is 16 runs away from the same milestone
Quotes"The better prepared side will have more chances to win the series. We are not less than them in terms of strength. If we play to our potential… it is natural for us to think positively."
Bangladesh opener Tamim Iqbal is confident heading into the series
"It doesn't come naturally to us to play aggressively against spin bowling, but we use our own formulas to succeed. It doesn't matter what you do, as long as you can play the ball and score runs. Hopefully we can do that."
New Zealand batsman Ross Taylor, when asked the mandatory spin-related question
*10.10GMT, October 8: The weather forecast has been updated.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets here