Bangladesh have not won a single match in their previous visits to New Zealand. So, ahead of their latest bout against the Black Caps that starts with the Boxing Day ODI at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch on Monday, questions were asked about whether the Tigers could end the long-standing jinx this time around.
The answers were not straightforward and ask Shakib Al Hasan, the premier all-rounder who took the Tigers close to that goal with his virtuoso all-round show twice -- the only ODI at the Hagley Oval in 2010 and the other being in the 2015 World Cup at Wellington -- and he would tell you with a mischievous smile on his face: “The weather is very good”.
The sun shone brilliantly on Christchurch yesterday, allowing the Tigers to have their first training session at the oval-shaped ground and its green surroundings. But Shakib, who had scored a fighting 36 and then followed that up with four-wickets to run the Black Caps deep into the final ten overs before losing the game by three wickets in 2010, refused to make further comments.
Bangladesh's batting coach Thilan Samaraweera however was more engaging about the prospects of the recent crop of Tigers, which is carrying some exciting young talents both in bowling and batting.
“After 45 days of the Bangladesh Premier League cricket we are very happy with what our batters are doing at the moment,” said the Sri Lankan, adding that staying at the wicket early in the innings would be the key for success on this type of pitch.
He acknowledged that nobody scored big in the lone practice game in Auckland, but appeared optimistic ahead of the first ODI.
“We were not very concerned because of the practice game. But you have to be good enough to cope in these conditions if you get a good start. It's not easy to get a good start early. But I think we have been getting better and better in the last two years. We had a very good World Cup in New Zealand [in 2015] and gave them a very good score to chase,” said the shaven-headed Lankan.
Bangladesh's two competitive scores in New Zealand were actually built around two fantastic centuries with left-handed opener Imrul Kayes hitting 101 in Christchurch while Mahmudullah scored a fabulous 128 in Wellington last year.
“We have talked about getting an early start and getting used to the bounce and seam. It's easy to bat when the ball gets old,” said Samaraweera, adding that a score of 265 would be a very good total.
“I think 255-260 is a huge score as far as the last five games on this ground are concerned and we are focusing on that.
“I think the Hagley Oval was never big a field. I had a chat with the groundsman and he said that they would go with more square boundaries which will be 70 to 75 meters which would be fair enough. I think the straight boundary will be shorter, about 60 to 65,” said the Tigers' batting coach.
He was also happy to see left-handed batsman Soumya Sarkar hitting a bit of form.
“His average is 47 in the last two years. Every cricketer from Sachin [Tendulkar] to [Kumar] Sangakkara goes through it. The main thing is that the support staff should back him. The good thing is he is hitting well; both in Australia and in the practice game in Auckland. Hopefully he will find his best on this tour,” Samaraweera said about the natural stroke-maker who has been starving for runs for quite some time.
Asked whether Soumya's lack of form has anything to with his technique, Samaraweera said: “Not much. We talk about a little bit of technical stuff. But we talk more about the mindset, such as how to get a start. We talk about little little things which of course we can't release to the press.”