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The Preview by Siddarth Ravindran
February 10, 2010
As aficionados of crime fiction know, for a narrative to be gripping, you need a good twist, something this series has sorely lacked. Despite missing several important players, New Zealand have swept past Bangladesh with ease in each of the matches so far. Coach Mark Greatbatch could not have asked for a simpler initiation to his stint in the top job - his charges have already won the series with minimum fuss, and New Zealand have also managed to blood newcomers ahead of tougher contests against Australia. Completing a clean sweep in Christchurch on Thursday will be the cherry on top for the new regime.
The tracks in New Zealand have neutralised Bangladesh's primary weapon - spin - forcing the visitors to use a three-pronged pace attack, which has proved less effective, especially with Mashrafe Mortaza absent. The wretched form of key middle-order batsmen, Mohammad Ashraful and Shakib Al Hasan, who have scraped 14 runs between them in two ODIs, is another huge setback to Bangladesh's chances of winning their first game in New Zealand. Bangladesh fans looking for crumbs will take heart from 20-year-old Shafiul Islam's performances, topping the wickets chart after two matches.
For New Zealand, one area where their captain Daniel Vettori wants improvement is the death bowling - Bangladesh clubbed 92 runs in their final 10 overs on Monday, despite already having lost six wickets. Tim Southee will have to shoulder some of that responsibility on Thursday, but he won't have pleasant memories of Christchurch after being slammed for 105 runs by India in his previous ODI there.
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Andy McKay got his first international game last week at the ripe old cricketing age of 29, and has impressed the team management with his pace, clocking 147kph in the first one-dayer. In the second ODI in Dunedin, he showed off his control, sending down a first spell that choked the Bangladesh top order: 7-3-4-2.
A team whose batting regularly resembles a house of cards, has had to thank Mushfiqur Rahim for saving them from utter embarrassment with his lower-order efforts. His fire-fighting skills were on display in Dunedin as well, where he made a gutsy 86 after the team was floundering at 46 for 6.
Team newsDaryl Tuffey has been left out due to a hamstring strain, and Nathan McCullum has been drafted into the squad. He is unlikely to get a look-in, though, with Southee expected to take Tuffey's place.
New Zealand: (probable) 1 Brendon McCullum (wk), 2 Peter Ingram, 3 Martin Guptill, 4 Ross Taylor, 5 James Franklin, 6 Neil Broom, 7 Jacob Oram, 8 Daniel Vettori, 9 Tim Southee, 10 Ian Butler, 11 Andy McKay.
Bangladesh have yet to announce their side for the final ODI. Opener Junaid Siddique flew in from home on Sunday, so he could take Imrul Kayes' spot.
Bangladesh: (probable) 1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Junaid Siddique/Imrul Kayes, 3 Mohammad Ashraful, 4 Aftab Ahmed, 5 Shakib Al Hasan (capt), 6 Mahmudullah, 7 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 8 Naeem Islam, 9 Shahadat Hossain, 10 Shafiul Islam, 11 Rubel Hossain.
"You need to have multiple guys who can bowl at the death. You almost want all your seamers to [be able to] bowl then, and it's a real focus area to improve on."
Mark Greatbatch highlights one area where New Zealand can get better.
"We are bowling well with the new ball but we need a lot of improvement in our batting, and our fielding."
Shakib Al Hasan is satisfied with at least one aspect of Bangladesh's performance.
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