Bangladesh one-day international skipper Mashrafee bin Murtaza expressed his confidence of beating New Zealand in the forthcoming three-match series, despite the absence of ace all-rounder Sakib al Hasan.
The Tigers suffered a massive blow when Sakib was ruled out at the very last moment with a fracture on his left ring finger he sustained during the final of the recently-concluded Bangladesh Premier League on Friday.
The injury of the key the all-rounder multiplied the problem of Bangladesh, who never defeated New Zealand at their own backyard in their 10 one-day internationals in the past 12 years.
Bangladesh’s only success on New Zealand soil came in 2015 when they defeated Scotland by six wickets in an ICC World Cup group match at Nelson.
‘It is needless to say how important Sakib really is. Every time we went to play without Sakib, we faced tough experience. It was already a big challenge. The loss of Shakib made it a bigger challenge,’ Mashrafee told reporters late on Saturday at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport before leaving for New Zealand.
‘Still, we faced this kind of challenge in Asia Cup with available players. So we have to play with a positive frame of mind. Fact is that if we don’t have Sakib it becomes double trouble for us, so we have to prepare mentally by keeping this in mind,’ he added.
In Sakib’s absence, Bangladesh defeated Pakistan in their penultimate Asia Cup match in September to reach the final, where they narrowly lost to India.
Selectors are unlikely to name a replacement of Sakib for the New Zealand series as they felt it was too late to make such adjustment.
With Test specialist Mominul Haque already in New Zealand, a selector on Friday said if the team management wants they can play him in Sakib’s place in the ODI series.
Bangladesh are likely to persist with pace attack, meaning they may not require to field a left-arm spinner in Sakib’s position.
‘Mashrafee will be there soon. If he feels we may need a left-arm spinner, Test squad member Taijul Islam will go there early,’ said the selector.
Mashrafee believed that the mental strength of the players would be the key to how they would perform in the series.
‘Of course, a series win is possible, difficult but possible. Mental strength is more important for that. At the same time, it is also important to play according to the plan. If everything goes in the right direction, it is possible,’ he said.
Mashrafee was also happy to see his players doing well in the recent BPL where most of the national stalwarts have performed really well both with bat and bowl.
Tamim Iqbal, Mushfiqur Rahim was the two of top three batsmen in the tournament while Mashrafee, Rubel Hossain, Mohammad Saifuddin, and Shafiul Islam were also the pick of the bowlers in the tournament.
‘The kind of wicket we got in BPL semi-final and final, I think wicket (in New Zealand) will be similar, flat. It’s a relief for us that the batsmen returned to form. Challenge is waiting for the bowlers,’ Mashrafee said.
The remaining two one-day international matches will be held on February 16 and 20 respectively at Christchurch and Dunedin.
Bangladesh will play a three-match Test series during their month-long tour to New Zealand with the first Test starting on February 28 in Hamilton.
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