Bangladesh have won the toss and elected to field in their must-win game against New Zealand in the ongoing T20I Tri-nation series at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch on Wednesday.
The Tigers made three changes to the eleven that played in their last game, against New Zealand, in the T20I Tri-nation series. Soumya Sarkar, who was dropped from the squad following poor performances in the last edition of the T20 World Cup last year, returns as he is set to feature in Bangladesh colours after over 11 months. The last time the left-handed opener played a game for Bangladesh was in November 2021 in a Super 12 encounter against Australia in the 2021 T20 World Cup in Dubai.
Mohammad Saifuddin and Ebadot Hossain are the two other changes in the eleven. Pacers Taskin Ahmed, Hasan Mahmud and all-rounder Mehedi Hasan Miraz are the other ones who have to sit out.
New Zealand, meanwhile, will be led by Tim Southee as regular skipper Kane Williamson is one of the four changes in their squad today. Blair Tickner and Mitchell Santner are the other two changes as Martin Guptill, Trent Boult and Adam Milne start.
Following heavy defeats in their first two matches against Pakistan and hosts New Zealand, Bangladesh go into this contest with a need for a win in order to stay in contention for the T20I Tri-nation series title. But for the Tigers, there remain bigger concerns than just keeping their chances alive to make it to the final of the tournament.
With the T20 World Cup just days away, Bangladesh are yet to find a solid footing in the format. It has only been downhill for the Tigers since they crashed out of the last edition of the World Cup without a single win from the Super 12s and a humiliating defeat to Scotland in their first game.
Among many, the major concern for the Shakib Al Hasan-led side has been their unstable top-order, the opening pair to be more precise. In the 14 matches that Bangladesh have played in 2022 so far, they have used a total of eight different opening pairs. And as it seems, Bangladesh will have yet another new opening pair today with Soumya returning to the squad.
In the last game against New Zealand, the Tigers included Najmul Hossain Shanto in place of Sabbir Rahman, who was brought into the national side just before the Asia Cup on a whim and was thought to be the answers to Bangladesh’s long-persisting opening problems as he was made part of a makeshift opening pair alongside Mehedi Hasan Miraz.
Shanto played a handy knock in the last game but the opening issues, or the overall batting issues, are far from mended. The Tigers even faced huge backlash for having skipper Shakib Al Hasan bat at number seven in their last game against New Zealand. Going in today’s game, Bangladesh will need to employ a much more sensible tactic if they hope to stay alive in the series.
Meanwhile, hosts New Zealand, the table toppers in the Tri-nation series, come to the game on the back of a nine-wicket thrashing of Pakistan Tuesday on a subcontinental-style pitch in Christchurch where the spinners ruled the roost.
Things could turn out well for Bangladesh spinners if the pitch today remains anything like it was in the last game between Pakistan and New Zealand.
However the pitch is, the Kiwis will be aiming for yet another dominant display. A win for the hosts today will mean New Zealand and Pakistan will play the final on October 14 at the same venue.
Bangladesh: Najmul Hossain Shanto, Soumya Sarkar, Litton Das, Shakib al Hasan (C), Afid Hossain, Mosaddek Hossain, Nurul Hasan, Yasir Ali, Mohammad Saifuddin, Ebadot Hossain, Shoriful Islam
New Zealand: Devon Conway, Finn Allen, Martin Guptill, Glenn Phillips, Mark Chapman, James Neesham, Michael Bracewell, Ish Sodhi, Adam Milne, Tim Southee, Trent Boult