The eight members of Bangladesh's 15-man ODI squad, whose Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) journeys ended after their respective franchises were eliminated, departed for New Zealand yesterday to prepare for the upcoming tour that is set to begin with the first ODI on February 13.
While each player who left yesterday would probably have individual targets, the collective challenge for Bangladesh would be to get some positive results from the three-match ODI series and the ensuing three-Test series against the hosts.
Sylhet Sixers' Sabbir Rahman -- whose inclusion in the ODI squad raised questions about the Bangladesh Cricket Board's (BCB's) professionalism for cutting the right-hander's six-month ban a month short to clear his way for the tour -- will have a lot to prove.
“Obviously, this is a big opportunity for me and this might be my second chance. I will try to return as the previous Sabbir. It is not about giving a reply; I will just try to play well. I don't have a position in mind, I will just play wherever the team wants me to play,” Sabbir told reporters at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport yesterday, choosing to keep any individual goals to himself.
All-rounder Mehedi Hasan Miraz -- the youngest skipper in the ongoing BPL, where he led Rajshahi Kings to a fifth-placed finish -- was much more expressive about his personal goal.
“It is a big challenge for me. Spinners usually do well in the sub-continent but don't seem to have that impact when they travel overseas. If us spinners can dominate and if we support the pacers well, it will be easier for the bowlers. At the end of the day, we will play as a team and we will try to do something good.”
While seniors like Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah Riyad did not speak to the media, they too must have a to-do list for the tour. Mushfiqur will be looking to carry his excellent form in all formats into the tour, while Mahmudullah would be desperate to leave the bad memories of the BPL behind after his franchise Khulna Titans ended at the bottom of the table.
Bangladesh were whitewashed in all three formats on their last tour of New Zealand in 2016-17. However, head coach Steve Rhodes thought that with the World Cup starting at the end of May, the objective would be to win some games in New Zealand and prepare for the big event.
“It will give us an indication where we are in world cricket, whether we are on target to the World Cup. I hope we win some games. It's not easy as was proved last time. We will be doing our very best in the ODIs. Test matches... very difficult. Again we are little bit better equipped now to play away. Hopefully we can produce some result in the Tests.”