Bangladesh cricket team will look to start afresh in the New Year and forget the recent memory of the ODI series whitewash when they take on a spirited New Zealand side in the first Twenty20 international at McLean Park in Napier today. The night game is scheduled to start from 12pm (Bangladesh standard time) and Channel 9 will telecast it live.
Captain Mashrafe bin Mortaza will definitely not want a repeat of the mistakes from the ODI series and target a return to form. However, weather can play spoilsport as it rained in Napier yesterday. According to forecasts, there is possibility of rain but the situation is expected to improve later in the evening.
A tough test is awaiting Bangladesh as they last played the shortest format of the game in the 2016 World T20 in India in March. Head coach Chandika Hathurusingha would want a collective approach from his charges in all the three departments, especially in batting, after a rather disappointing show in the ODI series.
All-rounder Shuvagata Hom and left-arm spinner Taijul Islam have been included in the squad while the out-of-form Soumya Sarkar gets another opportunity to return to run-scoring ways after a poor run with the bat.
But once again, a lot will depend on the senior players like Shakib al Hasan, Tamim Iqbal and Mahmudullah, who failed to score significantly in all the three ODIs, while Mashrafe will look to pump his team up by leading from the front.
The Tigers will definitely miss their experienced wicketkeeper-batsman Mushfiqur Rahim throughout the T20I series after he incurred a hamstring injury during the first ODI. In his absence, youngster Nurul Hasan will try to make his mark behind the wickets.
On the other hand, New Zealand will look to continue their winning run in the T20I series and have some explosive cricketers in the line-up to test the visitors. Tom Bruce, the uncapped batsman, was included in the squad. He has a strike rate of 156 in T20s and can prove to be dangerous for the Bangladesh bowlers, along with big-hitters Corey Anderson and Colin Munro.
In-form Neil Broom was also picked up in the side in place of the injured Martin Guptill while all-rounder Ben Wheeler also received a call-up to the Kiwi side.
Today's New Zealand-Bangladesh game will be the first ever T20I to be played at McLean Park. And no doubt, the first international match there after three years will definitely draw the attention among the locals.