New Zealand steel themselves for pitch battle against Bangladesh

Eyes have frequently been looking skywards in this tournament - and will continue to do so on Friday in Cardiff although, and whisper it quietly, the rain is meant to largely stay away. However, there will also be a few glancing downwards to the surface rolled out for a match that will keep one team on tenterhooks for another 24 hours.

It will be a new pitch used for the New Zealand-Bangladesh match and one that has spent considerable time covered in the last 24 hours, after more heavy rain swept through Cardiff. New Zealand, who took Wednesday off while Bangladesh trained in the sunshine, have not had a close look at the strip since the end of the game against England.

The 'Cardiff ridge', which England located consistently in the second innings of that match, made a few New Zealand players jolt upright - not least Ross Taylor, who saw a back-of-a-length ball smash into his grille - although it should be added that the excellence of England's bowling earned them the right to exploit any changes to the surface. It was certainly not a minefield and, in a format so dominated by the bat, the sudden sight of some help for the bowlers should not be greeted by alarm.

"You don't really prepare for the balls to kind of hold up a bit like they did," Trent Boult said. "Definitely, from our innings, it was a bit of a surprise in terms of we didn't really get that result out of the wicket. But whether it was due to a bit of rain or simply the wicket dried out, we're not sure. But I'm presuming it's going to be a decent surface prepared, and a few runs made."

Hugh Morris, the Glamorgan chief executive, sought to temper any criticism of the previous surface with a reminder that, before New Zealand's final collapse of 8 for 65, the bat had dominated for both teams

"I thought it played really well," Morris told the BBC. "England got 310 and were probably hoping to get 330, which on any ground is a competitive total.

"When New Zealand were 158 for 2, ahead of the required rate and ahead of the [DLS method], they probably thought they were on course for a victory.

"The rain the day before was torrential and the ground staff did magnificently well to make sure the pitch and outfield was in good condition to start on time and get a whole day's play in."

On the eve of this match, the groundstaff have again had to battle the elements. Torrential rain fell during the morning and heavy showers later in the afternoon, with Bangladesh briefly taking advantage of a dry interlude to train in the middle for a couple of hours. The surface remained covered, even though Mashrafe Mortaza was able to grab a glance. He reported a good covering of grass although it was due to be cut again before the match.

The pitch will be a fresh one, but New Zealand hope to be able to take some lessons from the England match. "I guess it's a bit of an advantage, but I'm sure the Bangladeshis have done their homework, and no doubt would have watched what went down the other day," Boult said. "But on a new surface, it's going to be interesting to see if it plays anything like the other one did."

A feature of the previous match, as throughout the tournament, was a lack of significant new-ball swing. Though New Zealand managed to bowl England out with three balls of the innings unused, the coach Mike Hesson said he did not feel his side were ever really in control of the innings, due to the run rate, and that the bowlers needed to find ways of taking wickets before partnerships developed and opposition batsmen took greater liberties.

"Not just myself, but the rest of the bowlers on our side, the swing bowlers generally like to exploit anything out of the air or off the seam," Boult said. "But when it's not seaming and it's not swinging, obviously we need to look at different measures.

"I don't think it's a technical thing from my point of view or from any of the bowlers but, looking across the tournament, no one's really swung the ball as we have seen in the past, for example the World Cup a couple years ago.

"It is a bit disappointing. You would like to see the ball banana-ing around, especially at the top of the innings. I'm not too sure what you can put it down to. It's one of those things and it's a good challenge to test your waters and see how you can get wickets in other ways."

Another factor New Zealand are aware of is the need to get through their overs at a swifter rate. Kane Williamson narrowly avoided a ban after the England match when New Zealand were ruled two overs short, so it only classed as a 'minor' offence instead of the 'major' one which led to Upul Tharanga being banned for two matches.

"It's up to the players to hustle through the overs. I'm not too sure what the allowances are with wickets," said Boult. "And you seem to have to walk about 2km to get out to the ground from the changing room; so whether that has anything to do with it.

"But to be as slow as we were the other day was a bit disappointing, it's something that we need to address because, come the crunch time in the tournament when you are under pressure and you're running out of time, it's just going to make it harder."

That crunch time has come now.