‘The record shows that we have to do things differently’
The most important facet in all of Bangladesh's major victories in international cricket is that the whole team contributed, no matter the size.
This time, the Tigers have set themselves the target of bucking the trend of losses on Kiwi soil and finally achieving a victory, having failed in 26 previous attempts across all formats. Mindset and togetherness will be definitive, as will hunger and will to win.
From what could be surmised from ODI captain Tamim Iqbal and head coach Russell Domingo's press conferences, their pace arsenal is what the Tigers feel could make the difference as they gear up for the first ODI to be played at Dunedin tomorrow.
Historically, it will be first time that the team think-tank feels the faster bowlers will hold the key in order to win matches on Kiwi soil. But the preparations, the extra time spent in New Zealand this time around, and the vibe the captain has gotten from the players during the tour gives them reasons to be optimistic.
Along with Mustafizur Rahman to spearhead the attack, the Tigers have Rubel Hossain, Taskin Ahmed, Al Amin Hossain, Shoriful Islam, Hasan Mahmud and Mohammad Saifuddin in the squad, with Tamim stating that at least three faster bowlers would feature in the playing eleven.
In the absence of ace all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan, the team combination will have to be adjusted.
"Team combination-wise, we're definitely going for three fast bowlers and then all-rounders. I want to go in with five bowlers because it's difficult to play four bowlers here since the grounds tend to be small, which often lead to high-scoring matches," Tamim said during a virtual press conference yesterday.
Both coach and captain felt excited by the prospect of the fast bowlers and, if anything, it was a good opportunity to blood them ahead of important commitments like the 2023 World Cup.
"It is a great opportunity for us to do something that no Bangladeshi side has done before," Domingo headlined during the virtual press conference. "It is a great opportunity for some of these younger players. There's a World Cup three years away," he reminded, before dictating that pace holds the aces. "I think we have some good young fast bowlers who are coming through that maybe New Zealand haven't seen before," Domingo said.
However, Bangladesh's most difficult prospect has been the top-order batting in New Zealand. The extra pace and swing on offer for faster bowlers is something they need to work on in order to grind a result.
Playing away from the body and dropping their heads has been prevalent, even among experienced top-order batsmen.
Tamim knows the task is not easy. In fact, he ascertained that the top-order might once more face the music, but the game has to be won through their own strengths and collectiveness.
He consigned 'the first 10-15 overs are the most difficult time to bat' in Kiwi conditions and as such 'wickets falling and struggling a little bit' is normal. However, Tamim was banking on the very 'positive vibe' from his players, one that perhaps has been spreading with the faster bowlers' prospects.
"We have to play fearless and attacking cricket. Our past record here shows that we have to do things differently. For me, the most important is the bowling. I am very excited with the new fast bowlers. They will do well or maybe not but they will learn and not just me, the whole team is excited as they have worked very hard in the nets and in the practice game," he said.
On their last tour, the Tigers scored above 200 in each ODI and perhaps the absence of Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor ushers in hope of denting the Kiwi batting, which was relentless last time.