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No panic button: New Zealand aim to reassess batting targets after lapse in assessing conditions

Coach Glenn Pocknall and captain Tom Latham taking "plenty of learnings" from rocky start to Bangladesh tour

Deivarayan Muthu
"If we can put a competitive total and put pressure on if we do bat first, you never know what might happen" - Tom Latham  •  AFP/Getty Images

"If we can put a competitive total and put pressure on if we do bat first, you never know what might happen" - Tom Latham  •  AFP/Getty Images

Debutant Rachin Ravindra rushed through a leg-side clip in the very first over and chipped a simple return catch to offspinner Mahedi Hasan. Will Young slashed at Shakib Al Hasan and dragged a non-turning ball back onto his stumps. Colin de Grandhomme tried to slog his way out of the mess, but holed out to deep square leg - the only fielder in the deep on the leg side in the powerplay. Tom Blundell misjudged an arm ball from left-arm spinner Nasum Ahmed and was also knocked over. Just like that, New Zealand lost four wickets in their first four overs of the series opener against Bangladesh, and the fall turned out to be so cataclysmic that they were rolled over for 60 - their joint-lowest total in T20I cricket.
New Zealand's stand-in coach Glenn Pocknall conceded that their inexperienced side misread the conditions at the Shere Bangla National Stadium, which offered sharp turn and bounce to the spinners, even with the new ball. In addition to that, the track was two-paced, with Shakib even saying that Wednesday's pitch was "more difficult" than the ones rolled out for the recent Australia T20Is.
"We probably didn't quite assess the conditions as well as we thought we did," Pocknall said after the defeat. "Losing four wickets for not many runs was always going to be a challenge in any form of cricket, especially this. We came back really well from that [collapse] with a good little partnership between Tom Latham and Henry Nicholls. I think we will take a lot from that performance in the way that they batted in the middle for our game in a couple of days' time."
Stand-in captain Latham and Nicholls provided a glimpse into how New Zealand can tackle these turners. Both batters were decisive in their footwork - fully forward or right back - and often used the depth of the crease or their feet to disrupt the Bangladesh spinners. However, when they looked to raise the tempo against the seamers, they both holed out off Mohammad Saifuddin. The 34-run fifth-wicket stand between Latham and Nicholls was the highest of the match.
"Yeah, obviously slightly disappointing with the start. I thought the way we managed to build a little bit of partnership through the middle... we knew it was going to be tough and unfortunately we kept losing wickets at crucial times really," Latham told the host broadcaster at the post-match presentation. "As soon as the guys came in, it was certainly hard to start. We knew it was always going to be a challenge. We were prepared for this, but unfortunately we couldn't quite put it together today.
"Hopefully, we will take plenty of learnings from what happened today and for us it's about trying to find a way in these conditions and obviously it's completely different to what we have back home. So, it's about trying to assess what a good score is on this sort of surface and as we showed with the ball tonight, certainly it isn't easy with runs on the board. So, if we can put a competitive total and put pressure on if we do bat first, you never know what might happen."
Pocknall echoed Latham's comments, saying the New Zealand attack could apply pressure on Bangladesh if their batters work their way to a competitive total.
"Both teams performed exceedingly well with the ball and two quality outfits in terms of spin bowlers and the fast bowlers were able to execute their slower balls," Pocknall said. "I think the bowling attacks really even themselves out. So, the challenge in two days' time is to [find out] how we can get to a 100 and then, yeah, defend that. I think we can defend that with an extra few runs."
The lone bright spot on an otherwise forgettable day for New Zealand was how their spinners immediately got cracking in Dhaka. Cole McConchie struck with his first ball in international cricket as Mohammad Naim scooped a catch to short cover while Ajaz Patel matched the relentless accuracy of the Bangladesh spinners, returning 1 for 7 - the second-most economical four-over effort for New Zealand in T20Is. As for Ravindra, he came back after conceding 10 in his first over to end with 1 for 21 in his four overs.
"They [conditions] do favour them but they're also very inexperienced at this level. Cole and Rachin made their debuts and Ajaz, I think, has played two or three Twenty20 international games," Pocknall said. "But, the thing that all three of them have is they have performed very well at domestic level and that's a big reason why they're here. So, to see them do what they do is a really positive sign for the rest of the series."
New Zealand have a one-day break to reflect further on their first-ever T20I loss against Bangladesh before they face Mahmudullah's men again in the second game at the same venue. The one way for them - from 60 all out - is up.

Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo