The three-match series against Bangladesh will be the Black Caps’ final series ahead of the quadrennial showpiece event and the 2015 finalists will want to gain some momentum before the tournament begins.
The aim will be the same for Bangladesh, who in recent years have developed into a formidable if at times inconsistent unit in the shorter versions of the game.
Bangladesh will play a tri-series against the Windies and Ireland just before the World Cup but a series win in New Zealand – something they have never achieved before – would give the side an arguably bigger confidence boost.
“We know it’s going to be very difficult, we’ve got to be realistic,” Bangladesh coach Steve Rhodes told reporters ahead of the match.
“But we quite like being underdogs. We can surprise a few people being an underdog and I think New Zealand know they’ve still got to play some very good cricket to beat us.”
New Zealand’s biggest issue during the India series was the failure of the batting unit – despite possessing plenty of firepower, the biggest issue they faced was batting through the innings.
This was evident in all four games that they lost to India as in each and every one of those matches, they failed to bat through the full 50 overs.
The inconsistent form of skipper Kane Williamson didn’t help matters, but the Black Caps’ ‘all guns blazing’ approach backfired on them, especially against the quality spin bowling of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav.
Bangladesh will miss the services of all-rounder Shakib al Hasan, but their playing XI in the sole warm-up match on Sunday consisted of Mehidy Hasan and Mahmadullah, as well as the 18-year old off-spinner Nayeem Hasan, suggesting they plan on throttling the home batsmen with spin.
However, the visitors aren’t without issues of their own in the batting department. Their top-order is inconsistent and the team are prone to the occasional collapse, both of which were on display in their warm-up game against the New Zealand XI.
The top three of Liton Das, Mominul Haque and Soumya Sarkar recorded scores of 3, 6 and 1 respectively as the visitors lost the match by two wickets.
Yet the bowling department did well and given that New Zealand’s sole win during the India series came when Trent Boult was at his searing best, there is every chance the series may hinge on which bowling unit comes to the part on what day.
And while Bangladesh have momentum on their side – they won a three-match series against Windies at home 2-1 – they know that a home side smarting from a humbling series loss will be dangerous.
“I think they’ll use those bruises to bounce back and we’ve got to be ready for a tough New Zealand turning up,” Rhodes said.
The first ODI is on Wednesday (February 13) at Napier.
First Published: February 12, 2019, 12:42 PM IST