NZ uneasy but focused on bigger goals, says Mills
Kyle Mills, the New Zealand fast bowler, has conceded that the series defeat to Bangladesh has made the team uneasy, but said the side is also focused on a long-term goal of the 2015 World Cup. New Zealand lost the second ODI in Mirpur by 40 runs to concede the three-match series to Bangladesh. The loss was also their sixth successive defeat against Bangladesh in completed matches, dating back to the last bilateral series between the two sides in 2010.
"We are trying to build a team towards the 2015 World Cup," Mills said. "It is in 15 months' time and that's the most important thing right now. The conditions in Australia and New Zealand are going to be a lot different from here. Corey Anderson and James Neesham are going to be prepared for the pressure-cooker environment in that tournament. But we have learned a lot in the past few weeks.
"Every loss puts pressure on players and management. We have been a good one-day side in the past 12 months, winning series overseas but we lost here. Everyone is going to be on edge, naturally."
It's an interesting way to view the events in Mirpur over the last three days. The composition of the New Zealand ODI squad suggests they are planning for the 50-over World Cup more than a year away, particularly with their choice of medium-paced allrounders. However, it would be silly to think they weren't adequately prepared to win in Bangladesh. New Zealand's last series loss to Bangladesh was a blow to the country's cricket and New Zealand Cricket intervened after the loss, conducting a review of the tour.
In spite of focusing on the big picture, New Zealand went down on Thursday night by 40 runs, a big defeat for a team ranked above Bangladesh. Early wickets didn't allow the visitors momentum and they failed to put together a decent partnership that would threaten the home side. The batsmen let down the bowlers, who kept things tight on a good batting wicket and bowled Bangladesh out for 247, a below-par score batting first at the Shere Bangla National Stadium.
"We didn't get off to the greatest starts, we lost early wickets. Every time we tried to build a partnership, we lost a wicket," Mills said. "Ross Taylor and Corey Anderson, and then Brendon McCullum and Taylor, got a partnership going but we lost wickets there. It let us down a little bit.
"We did well with the ball. Corey Anderson and James Neesham really stepped up. That's definitely a total we could have chased down. The conditions were difficult, but the partnerships let us down."
Brendon McCullum has not scored too many runs on this tour and the side would have missed Kane Williamson, out due to injury. But Mills was adamant about the team's improvement, mainly due to New Zealand's series victories against South Africa and England earlier this year.
"I don't think it [Bangladesh's winning streak] is a mental block whatsoever," he said. "We beat South Africa and England recently on their shores. Bangladesh are a good cricket side in their own conditions. Everyone's building towards the 2015 World Cup. Conditions will be lot different for them there."
New Zealand's biggest target now would be to ensure they don't go down 3-0, which will be a repeat of the whitewash they endured in 2010. The third and final ODI of the series is at the Fatullah Cricket Stadium, a ground on which they have never played a game.
"I think we can [avoid the whitewash]. We were not too far in the first game but Rubel got three wickets from three balls. It was obviously disappointing tonight," he said. "It is a tough challenge here to play in these conditions. We want to end ODI series on a high. Everyone will be up no doubt."
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets here