Bangladesh limited-over captain Mashrafe bin Mortaza has admitted that their upcoming New Zealand tour will be a tough challenge for the visiting side.
However, he said if the Tigers can carry the momentum gained in the last couple of years then Bangladesh can achieve good results there.
“Last year, we played maximum games at home and won most of them. Two years ago, we had targeted winning 80 percent of our games. And we have been successful. Now it’s a different challenge to play outside home. It’s a challenge even for established teams to play against New Zealand on their home soil. And from that aspect, it’s a big challenge for us,” Mashrafe told the media on Friday.
“New Zealand’s weather is different from other areas, I feel that it will be a difficult challenge. But we can take the momentum, we can take the memoires of the good matches we had. If we can take that with us, it will be good and give us confidence. We can hopefully practise well in Australia and take some momentum from there too,” he said.
Mashrafe believes they have to give a good account of themselves in all the three departments – batting, bowling and fielding. With that said, he thinks there will be plenty of scoring opportunities for them.
“I think, honestly speaking, the challenge is everywhere, be it top- and middle-order or total bowling and batting. I think there will be 350-run wickets there. People think that there will be seaming conditions. But it is wrong. These days, 350 runs are being scored regularly in New Zealand, Australia or South Africa,” he said.
“In Tests, the wickets might be different. But in ODIs or Twenty20s, there are plenty of opportunities to score for the batsmen. The biggest challenge is the wind. We have to adjust quickly. At home, we can think of recovering easily after making mistakes, but things over there won’t be the same,” he added.
Most of the local players have performed well in the just-concluded fourth edition of the Bangladesh Premier League Twenty20, perhaps with the exception of all-rounder Shakib al Hasan and opening batsman Soumya Sarkar, who have failed to do justice to their name.
Mashrafe though is of the opinion that it is only a matter of time before the batting duo return to run-scoring ways.
“Shakib, honestly speaking, is a big player in world cricket. With regards to these players, you always expect top-level performance and it's difficult to maintain that level all the time. But Shakib has always clicked in the right time. For the national team, he has always given his best. I have no doubts regarding Shakib’s performance. And as for Soumya, I think just one big innings will change everything. I hope he will come back soon,” he explained.
Right before the tour of New Zealand which will be preceded by the preparatory camp in Sydney, Australia, the Tigers suffered injury setbacks in the form of pacemen Mohammad Shahid and Shafiul Islam, who picked up knocks while featuring for Dhaka Dynamites and Khulna Titans respectively in BPL 4.
Mashrafe though said it is part and parcel of the game and that they have to adjust accordingly.
“Injury is always bad for a particular player or team. We often say we have back-up players but I don’t see much back-up players because you don’t have players to replace Shakib or Tamim [Iqbal]. Shafiul was playing very well, so this is very bad for us. We are creating back-up players but to go to that level will take some time. So at this point, these injuries will affect us,” he said. “You see, if we had Mustafizur [Rahman] for the England series then we could have won both the Tests and the ODIs. Mustafizur is almost fit, but two others (Shafiul and Shahid) became injured. Now we have to adjust to it,” he added.
As far as an improbable return to Test cricket is concerned, Mashrafe said, “Chance of me returning to Test cricket is zero percent. Because I have to play four-day cricket for any kind of consideration. And then I have to prove myself for the longer version of the game. If I just want to play Tests then it will be injustice.”