Bangladesh head coach Steve Rhodes on Tuesday termed his charges as underdogs ahead of the three-match one-day international series against New Zealand but backed them to win some matches against the hosts at their own backyard.
The Tigers were still searching their maiden win over New Zealand in New Zealand, having lost all 10 matches in their four previous visits to the country.
Bangladesh will be looking to end their losing streak in New Zealand when they take on the hosts in the first match of the series at McLean Park in Napier today although they will be without their ace all-rounder Sakib al Hasan, who was ruled out of the series with a finger injury at the eleventh hour.
The injury of Sakib came as a huge setback for the Tigers ahead of the ODI series but Rhodes had a firm belief that they still have the quality to give New Zealand a run for their money.
Bangladesh had a good record in the last six months, especially in ODI format, as they won back-to-back one-day international series against Zimbabwe and West Indies by 3-0 and 2-1 respectively after making into Asia Cup final in UAE in September last year.
‘It is a big task [to win in New Zealand] but it doesn’t mean we can’t win,’ Rhodes told reporters in Napier ahead of the first ODI.
‘We have beaten the West Indies couple of times. We should take a lot of heart from those wins. We know it is going to be difficult in New Zealand but we like being the underdog. I think New Zealand know they have to play very good cricket to beat us.
‘We would like to win this series, but also I’d like to find out about some of our batters and bowlers. Regarding the World Cup, I think the selectors would like to see some of the players cement their places,’ he added.
The 54-year old Englishman revealed that they would have to be extra careful as New Zealand recently conceded a 1-4 defeat in ODI series against India and the wounded Kiwis might come out stronger against the Tigers.
‘India is a tough side, and seems to bring in replacements, give people rest and still be a competitive side. I think the T20 win by New Zealand was a good effort. But they lost the ODIs 4-1 so I think they will use those bruises to possibly bounce back. We have to be ready for a tough New Zealand turning up,’ he said.
Rhodes believed that pacer Mustafizur Rahman might trump New Zealand this time having landed the country with great form. The coach also sensed the chances of wrist spinners in these conditions.
‘I think in any white-ball cricket, you [Mustafiz] want him in your side. He is ranked in the top -five in ODIs. Certainly he is a good performer when the pressure is on in the end of the innings. It is a key factor for playing against any team,’ he said.
‘Spin is one of our strong points, as well as playing against spin. I don’t really anticipate too much turn here. I think the wrist spinners might get a grip out of it. They know we lost our best spinner in Sakib al Hasan, so maybe they will make some spinning wickets for us,’ he added.
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