Mushfiqur Rahim's picture on his official Facebook page showing the cricketer smiling broadly said it all as he and the rest of the Bangladesh squad participated in their first practice session in Christchurch since landing in New Zealand on February 24.
The challenge facing the Tigers is a multi-faceted one. They returned to international cricket after a long pandemic-induced gap with the West Indies series at home, following a number of series cancellations last year. On top of that, their past forays in Kiwi soil is yet to yield a single win over the hosts and if that in itself is difficult, the players have found the strict quarantine protocols difficult at the beginning.
The New Zealand government is strict on maintaining protocols -- both Pakistan and West Indies had their training privileges revoked in November last year during their tour of the country.
The Bangladesh players were all confined to their own rooms for the first three days of self-isolation. After that the players were allowed to walk inside the hotel premises for 30 minutes each day. ODI skipper Tamim Iqbal said he felt he was seeing his teammates "after years" following self-isolation while spinner Mehedi Hasan Miraz remarked that being confined to a room "felt like a jail". Time inside a bubble can stand still.
However, things are looking up. The Tigers returned to training yesterday after they tested negative in all three coronavirus tests so far. All-rounder Mohammad Saifuddin, following their first practice session in small groups, relayed in a video message yesterday that their job was to adjust to the conditions as well as possible.
"After home quarantine for the first seven days, on the eighth day we went to practice in small groups. Everything was good and it was a first-time experience with such quarantine [protocols] and coming to the New Zealand tour. As sportsmen we try to adjust ourselves to all kinds of conditions," he said.
The vibes were good within the Bangladesh camp after the start of training. "In today's practice, we mostly worked on our fielding -- short and high catches. Because there's a matter of weather and windy conditions here, we practised catching in order to adapt to that. Then we also undertook batting and bowling in short sessions. There was also a little fitness training at the end as we haven't been able to work on fitness in seven days. We did some running as per the trainer's instructions. As more days pass, I will be looking to adjust better with the short practice session."
The positivity of the camp was reflected in Saifuddin saying they would like to take back a result this time around. The all-rounder echoed ODI skipper Tamim's sentiment of changing the record.
"There obviously are expectations [to win matches] because we are a very good team in ODIs. So, if we can all play at our best, if the day is ours, then, of course, the result will talk in our favour. Besides, there are also T20s. And as we are yet to fill in the achievement column [in New Zealand], we will try to ensure we can take something back this time around," Saifuddin said.
The Tigers' key focus will still be on adhering to the 14-day mandatory quarantine period after which things will get much easier as they will be able to mix with locals and roam around during the rest of the tour.