As the Bangladesh team members were gathering at the lobby of Rydges Wellington to go out for a team dinner on Wednesday coach Chandika Hathurusingha was in a chirpy mood. Wearing a white short-sleeve shirt and a sky-blue trouser, he happily partook in a chinwag with a couple of reporters.
Watching Taskin Ahmed in a spectacular suit, he quipped that his charges were really smart. The Sri Lankan even extended that smartness to the cricketing perspective and on a serious note observed that this generation of Bangladesh cricketers are smarter than their predecessors.
And how smart they are will be tested to the limit when they play the opening Test on the green top of the Basin Reserve from today. The prospect after a 6-0 whitewash in the limited-overs series may look bleak, but this is also the time for the Tigers to stand up and make their presence felt against the Black Caps.
The wicket is a devil. Not really, if you are not thinking about the green top at the back of your mind. It is the deliveries you are facing that count and given the nature of this wicket, if you can withstand the first session of the opening day, you will not only feel a bit of ease out in the middle but more importantly can give the much-needed confidence to the rest of the batting line-up on a track that has on occasions produced more than 600 runs and a triple century.
The onus will certainly be on Tamim Iqbal to give that confidence and the history suggests that the left-hander has all the ingredients to do that. Bangladesh have packed the team with as many as eight batsmen understandably in an attempt to score as many runs as possible if not out-bat their opposition. This is a good ploy considering the limited arsenal it has got in the bowling. Two debutant pacers and a couple who have just entered the demanding five-day format is a line-up from which not a lot can be expected.
But the batting must show its true potential because it's the more experienced of the two departments.