If I were to show you a photograph of Shakib al Hasan, would you know who he was?
As the World Test Championship has been heavily publicised since its inauguration in 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic has seen the ICC ODI Super League go under the radar.
As Bangladesh have completed their 14-day quarantine in New Zealand and have begun training for the first ODI in Dunedin on Saturday, they’ll be looking to spoil New Zealand’s first game in the ODI Super League.
Despite being second on the Super League table as of now, the Tigers will be heavy underdogs for the first ODI.
Compared to Bangladesh’s past two tours of New Zealand in 2016 and 2019, they enter Kiwi shores better prepared this time around.
With the compulsory two-week quarantine, it’s allowed the players to acclimatise to the seven-hour time difference between Bangladesh and New Zealand and now they have nearly two weeks of the team preparing together ahead of the first ODI.
The biggest obstacle for the Tigers is how they approach their batting against the new ball. In 2019, the Bangladesh top-three looked clueless during the three-match ODI series in NZ, with Soumya Sarkar (52 runs in three innings) scoring the most runs among the Bangladesh top three.
Knowing that New Zealand will chase for wickets with the new ball, it’s probably the best option that Bangladesh play it safe, looking to be 0/40 after the power play and then catch up in the latter overs with wickets in hand.
With Bangladesh having Tamim Iqbal as their new ODI skipper since Mashrafe Mortaza resigned, the onus will be on Iqbal to score runs with the bat and lead his boys from the front. Will he be ballsy enough to back his quicks and set attacking fields to put the Blackcaps under pressure during their batting innings?
Kane Williamson has been ruled out of the ODI series, with Tom Latham to lead in Williamson’s absence. Colin De Grandhomme is ruled out of the series as well as he undergoes surgery and Daryl Mitchell has received a maiden ODI call-up with two more uncapped players in Devon Conway and Will Young.
The only questions the Black Caps have is whether Conway or Young will bat at three and whether Kyle Jamieson or Tim Southee is the third seamer in the XI come the first ODI.
With no Adam Milne or Lockie Ferguson in the New Zealand ODI squad, it makes their seam attack very one-dimensional. This makes their tactics risky, as there’s no real X-factor bowler who can take wickets in the middle overs and the Black Caps will be heavily reliant on wickets in the power play.
Even with no Kane Williamson, Lockie Ferguson and Colin De Grandhomme, the Blackcaps start as clear favourites. They’re not the type of team to underestimate their opponents, even as favourites, and you’d expect nothing less than a Black Caps win.
But they face a Bangladesh side who are better prepared for a tour of New Zealand compared to the past two tours they’ve had. With the first ODI a day game, the Dunedin pitch could possibly slow down in the second innings.
Bangladesh: Tamim Iqbal (captain), Soumya Sarkar, Najmul Hossain, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Liton Das, Mahmudullah, Mohammad Saifuddin, Mehedi Hasan Miraz, Al Amin Hossain, Taskin Ahmed, Mustafizur Rahman
New Zealand: Martin Guptill, Henry Nicholls, Devon Conway, Ross Taylor, Tom Latham (captain and wk), Darryl Mitchell, Jimmy Neesham, Mitchell Santner, Matt Henry, Tim Southee, Trent Boult