The Bangladesh cricket team in New Zealand have already been having a tough time of it with the six limited-overs games being lost by hefty margins.
The prognosis for the Tigers seems especially bleak as the limited-overs leg was supposed to be the portion of the tour where they enjoyed reasonable success in a demanding tour, and from tomorrow they will engage in their weakest format of the game, the Test leg, and that too without playing a practice longer-version match.
“To tell you the truth, the board tried to shoehorn in a longer-version tour game before the Tests,” said Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) selector Habibul Bashar when contacted yesterday. “But there was a problem with their [New Zealand Cricket's] scheduling. Admittedly, it will be difficult to play the Tests without a warm-up as New Zealand are strong at home and we are not used to their conditions.”
New Zealand have a record to be proud of at home, winning 10 of their 20 Test matches over the last five years and losing just three. Those losses came against formidable opponents -- two against Australia in February 2016 and one against South Africa in March 2012.
Moreover, the wind-swept Basin Reserve in Wellington -- the venue for the first Test -- is as alien as conditions get for the Tigers, who are used to playing on slow and low spinning tracks.
Skipper Mushfiqur Rahim was only half-joking when he said yesterday that he could not make out the pitch from the outfield. And it is not likely to become much more distinguishable come tomorrow morning as the Kiwis have packed their side with five pace bowlers.
“The ODIs and T20Is have not featured the typical New Zealand wickets, but I think Wellington will have that kind of pitch for the Tests as they have included so many fast bowlers,” Bashar said.
Even with odds stacked so high against Bangladesh, Bashar was able to provide some positives, mostly to do with the time the squad have already spent in New Zealand.
“There is a certain belief that comes from spending so much time in the country. The nervousness of playing in new conditions will have gone, but still a practice match would have been helpful as it is a big adjustment from T20Is to Tests,” said the former national captain.
Bashar however believes that the pacers will perform well, if they can contain their excitement at seeing such an ideal wicket, a rarity for bowlers from the subcontinent.
“I believe the pacers will bowl well in the Tests. They have to rein themselves in and bowl in the right areas, which is the most important thing on pitches such as these.
It will be the first real test for bowling coach Courtney Walsh as the West Indian legend was relegated to the background for the Tests against England on Bangladeshi dustbowls. But most importantly, the batsmen will have to overcome the disadvantage of going in cold on a Wellington green top.