New Zealand ready for Bangladesh challenge in T20 series

DHAKA: New Zealand’s youthful Twenty20 squad is raring to go against Bangladesh in their upcoming series, stand-in captain Tom Latham said Tuesday, as the hosts come off their first-ever series win against Australia.

Latham will lead a second-string New Zealand side against Bangladesh in the five-match series starting Wednesday, with none of the players in the squad selected to play for their country in the T20 World Cup in October-November.

The matches will be held behind closed doors on September 1, 3, 5, 8 and 10 at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Dhaka.

“The way the world is at the moment, what NZC (New Zealand Cricket) is doing for player welfare… has presented an opportunity for a lot of the guys including myself,” Latham told reporters.

New Zealand is set to face a full-strength Bangladesh side fresh from a 4-1 victory over Australia in their T20 series earlier this month.

“Things won’t be easy over here, looking at the Australia series,” he said, but added that there was a “good vibe” in the squad.

“Most of the guys have experience at this level before. (A) couple of guys haven’t been in the squad before. It is exciting for them to get in the group and try to keep things as relaxed as possible,” he added.

“We have had two camps so from a preparation point of view, it has been a long time. Everyone is pretty excited to get going tomorrow.”

Bangladesh dominated Australia in low and slow wickets, with left-arm pacer Mustafizur Rahman appearing unplayable at times.

But Latham refused to single out any particular bowler as a potential threat in the spin-friendly conditions.

“They all present their challenges. Mustafizur at the top of the innings is renowned for his slower balls. We saw how he bowled against Australia,” he said.

“The spinners at the top and through the middle will present the challenges. (Our) guys have been working really hard for the last five days to come up with plans best to negate them.”

Bangladesh captain Mahmudullah Riyad said his team had to remain “focused and hungry as we did against Australia”.

“The team that reads the conditions well and has the hunger to do well on the day usually comes out on top in T20s,” he told reporters.

“Having said that, they are a very disciplined side in their homework and execution level.

“It is a very good opportunity for our team. We are eager to prove that we are good at home. I am hopeful that the boys will be up for it.”

New Zealand are ranked third in the world and Bangladesh tenth in T20s.

The home side have never beaten their opponents in a T20 in 10 attempts. New Zealand won the only one of those games played on Bangladesh territory, by 15 runs in 2013.