Wednesday, February 3
Start time 07.00pm (0600 GMT)
Bangladesh begin their tour of New Zealand with a Twenty20 fixture in Hamilton and, despite the gulf between their respective standings in the pecking order of the game, both sides will look forward to the face-off as an opportunity to settle nerves and fire a strong opening salvo.
It can be argued that Shakib al Hasan's young Bangladesh side is cut out for the Twenty20 format. In the recent Tests against India there were passages of play where their batsmen combined premeditated aggression with caution, often several times in the same over. The newest format of the game, however, gives them the license to not have to shoulder arms, and to throw the kitchen sink at everything - something that their cavalier batting line-up will fancy. Add the attraction of a smaller ground and the absence of Shane Bond, and Bangladesh emerge as serious contenders for the solitary Twenty20 fixture at Seddon Park.
Even as the higher-ranked teams struggled to come to grips with the format, Bangladesh got off to a strong start in Twenty20s, winning three of their first four matches, including one against West Indies in the inaugural World Cup. Reality has caught up with them since, and the next nine matches ended in defeat.
The hosts have their own problems to address, and will hope that Mark Greatbatch's appointment as coach will end a tumultuous period that began with Andy Moles' resignation in October. One of the biggest problems New Zealand have faced in recent times, albeit in the longer formats, is their misfiring top-order. Greatbatch has already identified it as a priority area and will hope his batsmen use this platform to ease back into form.
Form guide (Most recent first)
New Zealand: LLWWL
Watch out for…
Brendom McCullum will have fond memories of the only previous Twenty20 match at Seddon Park, when he caned the West Indies bowlers to set up an easy win. He will have equally fond memories of batting against Bangladesh, in particular his brutal, unbeaten 80 in a Queenstown ODI that ended in quick time. The Bangladesh attack, sans Mashrafe Mortaza, will need some well-thought plans for the elder McCullum.
Bangladesh may not have found a pace bowler of Mortaza's quality but in Shakib al Hasan they have a strong stand-in for the captaincy. While his batting was a let-down in the Tests against India, he was more than a handful with the ball. In the past, he has opened the bowling for Bangladesh in the shortest format and his searching lines and lack of pace could set up an intriguing duel against McCullum and co.
The hosts are expected to exclude Gareth Hopkins from the twelve, leaving Brendon McCullum to handle duties behind the stumps in addition to opening the innings. He is most likely to be accompanied at the top by Peter Ingram, who is set to debut at the age of 31.
New Zealand (probable): 1. Brendon McCullum (wk), 2. Peter Ingram, 3. Martin Guptill, 4. Ross Taylor, 5. Jacob Oram, 6. Daniel Vettori (capt), 7. Nathan McCullum, 8. James Franklin, 9. Ian Butler, 10. Daryl Tuffey, 11. Tim Southee.
Bangladesh announced their side a day early, leaving out Imrul Kayes and Junaid Siddique. Aftab Ahmed comes back into the picture, and could share opening duties with the in-form Tamim Iqbal. The promotion to Mohammad Ashraful and the lower-order firm of Mahmudullah and Mushfiqur Rahim, augurs well for the visitors.
Bangladesh (probable): 1. Tamim Iqbal, 2. Mohammad Ashraful, 3. Aftab Ahmed, 4. Raqibul Hasan, 5. Shakib al Hasan (capt), 6. Naeem Islam, 7. Mahmudullah, 8. Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 9. Shahadat Hossain, 10. Shafiul Islam, 11. Nazmul Hossain.
Pitch and conditions
Expect a pitch full of runs, and nippy conditions that could see the ball moving around. Though there is almost no chance of rain, the forecast is for cloudy skies, with the temperature hovering around 20C.
Stats and trivia
- Bangladesh have lost their last nine Twenty20 matches.
- With 813 runs in 30 innings, Brendon McCullum is the most prolific batsman in Twenty20 internationals, 171 runs clear of Graeme Smith. Ross Taylor is 11th in the list.
- Daniel Vettori's 27 wickets puts him at third in the wicket-takers list, behind Umar Gul and Shahid Afridi.
"Bangladesh are playing some good cricket and if we go out there and are complacent it will show in our performances."
Ross Taylor is not taking Bangladesh lightly.
""From my point of view, I expect us to win the one-day series, and win the Test match if we play well, without a doubt."
Jamie Siddons expects nothing short of the best from the Bangladesh team.
Nitin Sundar is a sub-editor at Cricinfo