Bangladesh's head coach Russell Domingo believes his team have a "great opportunity" to upset New Zealand in the upcoming three-match ODI series that starts in Dunedin on Saturday. Bangladesh have never beaten New Zealand in their backyard before, but Domingo, who as South Africa's head coach won in two tours in 2014 and 2017, said that the build-up towards the 2023 World Cup can get a major boost if the visitors can pull off their maiden series win in New Zealand.
"It is a great opportunity for us to do something that no Bangladeshi side has done before," Domingo said. "We are all excited by it. It is my first tour to New Zealand with Bangladesh. I have been here previously with South Africa. I know it's a tough place to tour, but it is a great opportunity for some of these younger players. There's a World Cup three years away and New Zealand is one of the top sides in the world. If you want to be serious contenders in India, you have to put in big performances in a series like this."
Bangladesh beat West Indies at home 3-0 in January, while New Zealand haven't played any ODIs since March last year. Domingo said that ODIs are Bangladesh's strongest suit, and with a fast-bowling attack that has depth, they can potentially surprise New Zealand.
"I think the 50-over format is our strongest format at the moment. If you look at the team's performance in the World Cup and if you look at the averages of the players, we have some good numbers in one-day cricket.
"I think we have some good young fast bowlers who are coming through that maybe New Zealand haven't seen before. They maybe weren't expecting to see. We have got some good potential, guys like Hasan Mahmud and Taskin Ahmed are bowling nicely. We are excited about some of our fast bowlers."
Domingo said that he expects a high-scoring encounter at the University Oval in Dunedin although the 11.00am start can be an advantage to the bowlers as he has spotted considerable moisture on the pitches during the morning.
"I have been following domestic cricket quite a bit. I think average score in this venue is about 307 runs. I think the boundary is pretty short in some sides, 65 metres. We are expecting some good runs.
"(It is) difficult to say with an 11am start. Quite a bit of moisture this morning. It will be interesting to see what happens in the first hour."
Bangladesh could also get some leeway in the absence of Kane Williamson (elbow injury) and Ross Taylor (hamstring injury), but Domingo has warned that taking New Zealand's replacements lightly could be dangerous for his side.
"It is a bit of a boost for us, not having (Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor) in the first game in particular. But we know that new players are always keen to establish themselves, so they will be highly motivated to do well," he said.
Domingo was pleased with how his players responded to the two-week quarantine, including the first seven days of in-room isolation, since arriving in Christchurch in mid-February. The Bangladesh team spent the last week in Queenstown in a training camp that was added after the initial tour schedule had to be changed.
"Quarantine allows you a bit more time to prepare when you do get out it. I think the initial schedule had us playing our first ODI three days after the Christchurch lockdown so the rescheduling has been very good for us. After we had couple of individual sessions in Christchurch, we spent a good week in Queenstown.
"The preparation has been spot-on. The guys have been fantastic. Lockdown was tough but no complaints from any of them. I am really proud of the way the guys have gone about their work in the last three weeks," he said
Bangladesh's not-so-secret weapon on this tour has also been Daniel Vettori, their spin-bowling coach who joined the side after missing out for 12 months due to Covid-related travel restrictions from New Zealand. Domingo said that Vettori has been a refreshing inclusion, as he has intimate knowledge of conditions and players in New Zealand.
"It is great to have Daniel (Vettori). He has been working with us for the last one year. He has been in and out of Bangladesh. We haven't seen him for a while because of Covid but it is great to have his knowledge and experience here, not just about the venues but some of the players too.
"He has connected with some of our bowlers and batters. We know what an important a batter Dan was for New Zealand. He has given us a fresh energy and dimension that maybe we didn't have in the past."
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84