12 March 2015
Bangladesh v New Zealand, Match 37, Hamilton
Bangladesh believes spin could be key against McCullum and Co, while New Zealand may be forced to tinker with XI
New Zealand may have to tinker with its winning combination due to a stomach bug that has afflicted the team.
A win could help it avoid the India juggernaut in the quarter-finals, but that will be a challenge against a New Zealand side that has won all five of its matches so far, and will be looking to keep that record intact heading into the business end of the tournament.
Bangladesh reached the quarter-finals, for the first time in its history, with a nerve-wracking 15-run victory against England at the Adelaide Oval on Monday. Particularly impressive in that victory was Bangladesh’s pace bowling. The trio of Mortaza, Rubel Hossain and Taskin Ahmed were brilliant, with Rubel returning a fine 4 for 53 and the other two lending able support.
Pace, however, might not be figure in Bangladesh's plans to counter New Zealand, in general, and Brendon McCullum, in particular. McCullum, much like his aggressive captaincy that has been lauded the world over, has an aggressive approach to batsmanship, the 18-ball half-century against England testament to that.
And Ruwan Kalpage, the Bangladesh assistant coach, revealed the team’s plans to start against McCullum with spin. He said the Hamilton pitch could help the spinners, and going by the performance of R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Suresh Raina in India’s victory over Ireland at the same venue on Wednesday, it’s an idea well worth trying. “He (McCullum) has not had to start against spinners,” pointed out Kalpage. “It will be tough for us but we have plans for him. I'm pretty sure it (the pitch) will help the spinners.
Chandika Hathurusinghe, the Bangladesh coach, also stressed on the importance of sending McCullum back early before he does much damage: “It's difficult because he is playing without fear, but again we are playing to our strengths and we have plans and if we execute the plans we have, it will be key to win the game. He is their main player and we need to get him out early. We always play differently and don't stick to the same plans against different oppositions. We know we have to play at our best to beat them.”
Getting McCullum would be key to Bangladesh’s chances, not just because he can single-handedly take the game away from the opposition, but because it could expose the New Zealand middle order.
So far, Ross Taylor, Grant Elliot and Luke Ronchi have been tested only once – in that nail-biter against Australia, during which they didn’t fare too well. In four of its last five games, New Zealand has chased, and the top order of Kane Williamson and McCullum have largely carried the batting. That, added to the fact that the bowlers have prevented the opposition from setting up big totals, has meant that the middle order could well do with some time in the middle, especially before the quarter-finals.
While Bangladesh seems to be placing at least a few of its eggs in the spin basket, the performance of its pacemen against England has clearly left an impression, as McCullum said.
“I think what we saw the other night with a couple of the guys there, the threat that they pose with ball in hand for their quick bowlers is a lot more than a few years ago,” said McCullum. “Tomorrow's going to be tough. The quick bowlers are going to ask us some questions, especially if it juices up a little bit. But we've faced some good, quick bowlers over the last little while too.”
One of the features of New Zealand’s campaign so far has been its insistence on keeping the winning combination intact. The same XI has stepped out in its five matches so far, but that could change against Bangladesh, not because it wants to experiment, but because a stomach bug has afflicted the team. Kane Williamson, Grant Elliott and Daniel Vettori all had to deal with the bug after the six-wicket win against on Sunday.
While McCullum confirmed all of them had recovered, Adam Milne is a certainty to be left out, as he’s “still a little bit stiff”. Mitchell McClenaghan is expected to replace him in the XI.
As far as Bangladesh is concerned, a decision on Mortaza, who is suffering from a sore throat, would be taken on the day of the match. Given that Mortaza could face a ban for a match if found guilty of slow over-rate again, after the England game, the management may well opt to rest him anyway.
New Zealand: Brendon McCullum (capt), Martin Guptill, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Grant Elliott, Tom Latham, Mitchell McClenaghan, Nathan McCullum, Kyle Mills, Adam Milne, Daniel Vettori, Corey Anderson, Tim Southee, Luke Ronchi (wk), Trent Boult.
Bangladesh: Mashrafe Mortaza (capt), Shakib Al Hasan, Tamim Iqbal, Imrul Kayes, Mominul Haque, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Mohammad Mahmudullah, Nasir Hossain, Sabbir Rahman, Soumya Sarkar, Rubel Hossain, Taskin Ahmed, Taijul Islam, Arafat Sunny, Shafiul Islam.
You can follow the build up to the game and the live scoring and match highlights for New Zealand v Bangladesh here in the ICC Match Centre.
Australia v Scotland Preview, Match 40, Hobart
Top of the Tables – Kumar Sangakkara and Josh Davey