Bangladesh fast bowler Mashrafe Mortaza will not be making the trip to New Zealand, owing to a bout of fever. On Friday, his departure to link up with the squad for the limited-overs games had been delayed, and coach Jamie Siddons confirmed on Monday that he would be unavailable. The Bangladesh board announced it would not name a replacement.
"He will not be coming over," Siddons told RadioLive. "He picked up a bit of a fever and hadn't done a lot of work. It probably set him back another week so it is not worth bringing him in."
However, Siddons said Bangladesh were a much improved unit from the one that last toured New Zealand in 2007-08, when they were steamrolled in the two Tests and three ODIs. "We are still a young side but starting to show real signs we are improving," Siddons said. "In the one-dayers against India, 250 was our last score and 296 was our best score - these are great scores in our conditions over there.
"In the Test against India, we had three different guys make 100s and five bowlers taking five-fors. We also saw (skipper and left arm spinner) Shakib (Al Hasan) continuing his form with another five-for so those are really great signs for us."
He believed Mark Greatbatch's recent appointment as New Zealand coach was unlikely to disturb the focus of the home team. "I don't think it makes them vulnerable - they don't seem to be confused and they are all very happy with the new coach," Siddons said. "They have had Dan (Vettori) there the whole time, [he] is probably their general anyway. There may be a bit of nerves so if we can play well, we can put them under some pressure."
The last series involving both teams was played in Bangladesh, where New Zealand came out trumps again in the three ODIs (2-1) and clinched the two-Test series 1-0. Referring to that encounter, Siddons said his side's top priority would be reducing the potential damage by Vettori and Ross Taylor. "Daniel has picked up wickets at the wrong times for us in Tests and one-dayers. He was the only thing stopping us from cleaning up New Zealand over there in Bangladesh the last time. If we can get on top of him and minimise his damage then I think we will go all right. Taylor is a good hitter -- we'll probably try and not bowl full tosses and half-trackers at him."
From the hosts' perspective, fast bowler Daryl Tuffey said they were expecting nothing short of a clean sweep. "We do want to whitewash them in all forms of the games especially moving forward against Australia next month," Tuffey said. "It's going to be a tough series and we want to play well. I don't think there is any more pressure to perform than usual."