Sixth position in the ODI team ranking is still up for grab for Bangladesh as Mashrafe bin Mortaza and his troop target their first away win over New Zealand in the final game of the tri-nation series at Clontarf Cricket Club Ground in Dublin on Wednesday. The match begins at 3:45pm and BTV, GTV and Maasranga TV will telecast it live.
Bangladesh are currently two points behind Sri Lanka with 91 points and if the Tigers can beat the Kiwis today then both Bangladesh and the Lankans will have equal 93 points. But having played less matches, the Tigers will gain a fraction of advantage and jump into sixth.
Apart from the ranking issue, the game against the Black Caps will also have added significance in that the Tigers would be desperate to take some much needed momentum to the 2017 Champions Trophy, starting next week in England. Both the sides will face each other in the last match of Group A in Cardiff, Wales on June 9.
However, it won’t be an easy task for the Tigers against the unbeaten Kiwis. In the tri-series, Bangladesh lost their first game against the Kiwis by four wickets. And to add strength to the side, the Kiwis roped in pacers Matt Henry, Adam Milne and Corey Anderson following their IPL campaign.
The Bangladesh think tank may opt for a few experiments in the last game of the tri-series. According to sources, opening batsman Imrul Kayes, all-rounder Nasir Hossain and pacemen Subashish Roy and Shafiul Islam might get the nod in the playing XI on Wednesday. With that said, openers Tamim Iqbal and Soumya Sarkar have been in terrific form in the tri-series so far.
There are however, some concerns in the batting line-up as the likes of batsmen Sabbir Rahman, Shakib al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim are yet to contribute significantly with the bat in the tri-series.
On the other hand, the Tigers' bowling department throughout the tri-series has mostly been dependent on pacer Mustafizur Rahman. The left-arm paceman picked up six wickets in two games at an economy rate of three runs per over. But the likes of Mashrafe and fast bowlers Rubel Hossain and Taskin Ahmed need to step up the gas in order to upset the in-form New Zealand batting line-up.
Shakib has the chance to lead the wicket-takers' list in New Zealand-Bangladesh ODIs as he is now tied with pacer Kyle Mills on 33 wickets. The next highest among current national players is Rubel with 19 scalps.
Meanwhile, weather has been the major concern in Ireland throughout the entire tri-series. The opening game between Bangladesh and Ireland was washed out but according to forecasts, clear skies will be visible in Dublin on Wednesday.
Even if the result does not favour the Tigers, the Bangladesh players will look to take forward all the positives gained from the tri-series into the eight-team Champions Trophy.