Bangladesh, New Zealand clash with point to prove
(CricInfo) New Zealand, considered underdogs for the tournament, will open their World Twenty20 campaign today against a team that is also considered this year’s dark horses and actually hold a mental edge over them – Bangladesh crushed the visiting New Zealand side 4-0 in a one-day series, and though that was two years ago, the memory is fresh for the eight members of the current squad who rejoiced with the cricket-crazy nation at the time.
But Bangladesh have to quickly realise New Zealand will be eager to take the lead in a group that also contains Pakistan.
Ross Taylor will lead a side that has traditionally done well in multi-team tournaments, where they gel as a unit to reduce the gap between them and more talented or experienced sides. But this hasn’t been a very positive year for New Zealand. They did start the 2011-12 season with home and away wins over Zimbabwe on either side of a drawn Test series in Australia – which included that win in Hobart – but it has been downhill ever since, losing at home to South Africa and away to West Indies in all three formats. There was a spark of hope coming into this tournament, as they recovered from a Test-series loss in India to take the rain-hit Twenty20 series 1-0 with a win in Chennai. Subsequently, in a way, this is a great stage for New Zealand – they get a global tournament in which to impress and make up for a poor year.
The main issue for them is fitness: Daniel Vettori, Tim Southee and Rob Nicol went to Kandy a day later than the rest of the team, too sick to travel on the stipulated day. The trio suffered gastro problems in Colombo, but have since recovered. Also, Kyle Mills, who was recovering from his collision with Brendon McCullum during the India T20, had a bout of laryngitis. He too is expected to be fit.
Still, whether they are tested would entirely depend on how much fight Bangladesh can provide. Bangladesh, as opposed to New Zealand, come into this competition confident and well-prepared: after their rousing Asia Cup performance, they have devoted the Bangladesh off-season to exclusively playing Twenty20s.
The recent history between the two sides, the talent within them and their strong reasons for needing to reach the Super Eights could produce a tremendous encounter.