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First ten overs crucial for Bangladesh against New Zealand, Soumya Sarkar says

How Bangladesh began their World Cup opener against South Africa had a lot to do with the result. Soumya Sarkar and Tamim Iqbal put together 60 runs for the opening stand and although both fell within 11.4 overs, they had done more than enough to alleviate any nerves in the dressing room about the first match of a major tournament, in front of a big crowd, in foreign conditions and against a strong bowling attack.

Soumya's 30-ball 42 put the pacey South African attack on the back foot and they couldn't recover. However, he believes the same method against a different bowling attack may not work all the time. Particularly against New Zealand, Soumya believes that they would have to keep swing and pace in mind.

In the ODI series in February, Bangladesh lost four wickets in the first ten overs twice in three games. They lost the series 3-0. In the ten matches since 2015, Bangladesh have only gone through two wicketless first Powerplays against New Zealand, winning one of those games. At the Champions Trophy in Cardiff two years ago, Bangladesh lost three early wickets, after which Shakib Al Hasan and Mahmudullah struck centuries in an incredible fourth-wicket partnership.

Soumya said that going wicketless in the first ten overs, a factor that has helped them in their last four consecutive wins, would take them a long way in gaining confidence against New Zealand. He also said The Oval pitch would be a new one for this game, unlike the South Africa game which was played on a used pitch.

"It will certainly have a big impact," Soumya said. "If we do not lose a wicket in the first ten overs, it will really help us. Their strength is to swing the ball in the first ten overs. They take early wickets. If the wicket assists the batsmen, it will create pressure on them. We may not bat the same way as we did against South Africa. I think the simple fact is the type of wicket would be different.

"We played on a used wicket against them, while we will play on a new wicket against New Zealand. Their bowlers have swing with pace, which we have to tackle together. We have to play according to the merit of the ball. If there's swing, we have to play out the first few overs."

Soumya vowed to try and keep his form intact, having scored three fifties in his last four innings, including his match-winning effort in the tri-series final against New Zealand couple of weeks ago.

"I will try to play my way," he said. "Sometimes it is a quickfire knock, while at other times it may be a long innings. I try to give the team a good platform, whether I am scoring twenties or thirties, or a hundred. I want it to be helpful for the team. It is my personal plan. If my way of batting puts the opposition under pressure, it helps my team. I try to stick to my plan."

One of the major features - and also a change - in his approach has been the choice of shots that Soumya has made. He hardly goes for wild swings or slogs after he has hit a few boundaries, a problem he had between 2016 and 2018. The discipline has so far given him runs, although a more focused approach is required for a better conversion rate.

He has scored two ODI hundreds among his twelve 50-plus scores, but a bigger concern is the 16 innings in which he got out between the scores of 20 and 45.

But if Soumya, Tamim and the rest of the Bangladesh batsmen can temper their freewheeling strokeplay against New Zealand on Wednesday, even if it is for at least the first ten to twelve overs, Bangladesh may be able to control more of the match.