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Mohammad Isam in Mirpur
October 20, 2013
New Zealand will be eager to register their first Test win in 2013, but they are not expecting one to be served on a platter by Bangladesh. Captain Brendon McCullum said he expects a tough fight in the second Test in Dhaka, and acknowledges that they are expected to win the series given the track record and difference in rankings between the two sides.
New Zealand have won eight out of the last ten Tests against Bangladesh, but the tide has started to turn since 2008. Bangladesh beat them in an ODI for the first time that year and pushed them a long way in the first Test, a few days later, before Daniel Vettori bailed them out. Bangladesh then surprised New Zealand with a 4-0 ODI series win in 2010 at home.
"We have a decent amount of respect for Bangladesh," McCullum said. "They are a tough opposition and we saw that in the last match. It was a very good match with both teams showing their skills and didn't, at any stage, relent.
"We said at the outset that we should be winning the series, and the expectation is on us to do so, and that hasn't changed. It didn't surprise me how close the last game went. Both teams are, in these conditions, closely matched. We have a real fight on our hands to get the result that we want."
New Zealand are likely to add Neil Wagner in place of one of the spinners to strengthen their pace attack. "We have a number of options which is good from the point of view of the squad," McCullum said. "We have to make sure we are completely comfortable with the way we go forward from here. It is something we need to look out and work out the balance of our team. If we do include the extra seamer it will be in place of one of the spinners."
He claimed that the wicket in Mirpur should be similar to that in Chittagong, where the first Test was played. Judging by the Dhaka Premier League matches this season, there should be more carry in the Mirpur wicket than in Chittagong, but it will remain a tough surface to get wickets for the bowlers.
"It should be similar to Chittagong where there is not much pace and bounce," McCullum said. "I think that's the challenge of playing in Bangladesh. It is a myth that it spins in Bangladesh. I think Sri Lanka and India offer a lot more for the spinners. In Bangladesh it tends to skid and you have seen it in the modes of dismissal in the last game. Their spinners bowled very well and they will ask us a lot of questions in the next five days."
New Zealand are unlikely to change their batting approach, which lets the top order take up a considerable amount of time before someone like McCullum comes in at No. 5. "I don't think they [top order] need to bat at a higher tempo," he said. "They did a good job. We have talked about batting four sessions in the first innings and around three in the second innings. I thought our batting was faultless in the first Test."
The bottom line will be how the New Zealand batsmen withstand another relentless innings of spin bowling. Sohag Gazi's second-innings performance served as a warning to the visitors who would be wary of the offspinner.
"Everyone will have their own plans against him," McCullum said. "He bowled exceptionally well in the last Test. When we looked to dictate terms, he got the wickets.
"Prior to that, I thought we played him pretty well. He had a very good game and thoroughly deserves the accolade that has followed. If we have to do well, he is one of the guys we have to overcome."
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets hereFeeds: Mohammad Isam
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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