Tigers seek to right wrongs
Bangladesh will have one eye on World Cup preparation while the other will be firmly fixed on erasing the nightmarish experiences of recent losses when they take on New Zealand in the first one-day of the five-match series at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur today.
The Tigers will be looking to avenge shock defeats to Ireland and Netherlands in recent months but it will not be an easy task for Mashrafe Bin Mortaza's men, as they will be missing the services of explosive opener Tamim Iqbal. Added to the fact that their middle-order has been struggling for form in the last couple of series, and the Tigers find themselves up against it at home against the Kiwis.
Shahriar Nafees will be tasked with the unenviable job of replacing Tamim. And the left-hander who returns to one-day cricket after a two and half year hiatus is under no illusions as to the job at hand.
"It's very difficult to replace Tamim right at the moment in the team and what I will try to do is play my natural game. My main target is to establish my place in the team," said Nafees.
Bangladesh coach Jamie Siddons echoed Nafees' sentiment as the Tigers are now faced with the question of who will give them a flying start in the absence of injury victim Tamim.
"We will miss Tamim and it's a big blow. Ash (Mohammad Ashraful) is also out of form. I would have ideally liked to have both of them inform,” he said.
“I want the middle order to perform this time with Shakib (Al Hasan), Mushfiq (Mushfiqur Rahim) and Rokibul (Hasan) needing to step up and discipline their game," said Siddons while speaking at an official press conference on the eve of the first ODI.
The Australian however said that he was looking to see improvement in his team with the World Cup knocking at the door.
"We have two new coaches and we have more space, but the training needs to go on for longer to give the coaches more time with the players. I expect to see improvement but you must remember one of the coaches has been here for three weeks and the other for four weeks with breaks in between.
“The training has not been as hard as I would have liked. I wouldn't expect to see drastic improvement in areas but we are stepping up steadily and I expect to continue that trend," he added.
Siddons however said that every player in the squad is keen for success in the series.
"I expect the body language to be positive from every one. Tamim's injury gives the opportunity to some one else. Shahriar Nafees has stepped in obviously but Rokibul (Hasan) has got one match after six months and he will be happy to be playing. So every one is keen for this series and everyone wants to play good cricket and we want to win some matches also," he opined.
Captain Mashrafe was confident that it's possible to beat New Zealand if they can play to their best.
"We have had hard training for the last one and a half months. Now we need to have a good start in the series and that's why the first match is very much important for us. I think it's possible to beat New Zealand if we can play to our potential," said Mashrafe, who is going to lead the team for the first time at home.
"It's a great opportunity for us to gain confidence ahead of the World Cup. I believe everybody will take the opportunity with both hands. We will definitely miss the services of Tamim but hopefully Nafees (Shahriar) can play to his potential," hoped Mashrafe.
The Bangladesh captain has pinned his hopes on his spin bowlers. "Our spinners will play a big role in the series but again everybody has to play their role well if want to win the match," he said, adding that the toss will not be a major factor.