DHAKA: New Zealand’s youthful squad is raring to go against Bangladesh in the Twenty20 International series, stand-in captain Tom Latham said on Tuesday, as the hosts come off their first-ever series win against Australia.

Latham will lead a second-string New Zealand side against Bangladesh in the five-match rubber starting on Wednesday, with none of the players in the squad selected to play for their country in the T20 World Cup in October-November.

All matches will be held behind closed doors at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Dhaka.

“The way the world is at the moment, what NZC [New Zealand Cricket] is doing for player welfare... has presented an opportunity for a lot of the guys including myself,” Latham told reporters.

New Zealand are set to face a full-strength Bangladesh side fresh from a 4-1 victory over Australia in their T20 series in August.

“Things won’t be easy over here, looking at the Australia series,” Latham said, but added that there was a ‘good vibe’ in the squad.

“Most of the guys have experience at this level before. A couple of guys haven’t been in the squad before. It is exciting for them to get in the group and try to keep things as relaxed as possible,” he added.

“We have had two camps so from a preparation point of view it has been a long time. Everyone is pretty excited to get going tomorrow [Wednesday].”

Bangladesh dominated Australia on low and slow wickets, with left-arm pacer Mustafizur Rahman appearing unplayable at times.

But Latham refused to single out any particular bowler as a potential threat in the spin-friendly conditions.

“They all present their challenges. Mustafizur at the top of the innings is renowned for his slower balls. We saw how he bowled against Australia,” he said. “The spinners at the top and through the middle will present the challenges. Our guys have been working really hard for the last five days to come up with plans best to negate them.”

Bangladesh captain Mahmudullah, meanwhile, said his team had to remain ‘focused and hungry’ as they did against Australia, while saying the New Zealanders can’t be underestimated.

“The team that reads the conditions well and has the hunger to do well on the day usually comes out on top in T20s,” he told reporters.

“Having said that, they are a very disciplined side in their homework and execution level. “It is a very good opportunity for our team. We are eager to prove that we are good at home. I am hopeful that the boys will be up for it.

“We were positive against Australia from the first ball and it gave us the edge in that series. We were hungry for the victory. I know our T20 record against New Zealand. I think we should show the hunger against New Zealand also. There is a positive vibe and we are upbeat to win it.

New Zealand are ranked third in the world and Bangladesh 10th in T20s. The home side has never beaten their opponents in a T20 in 10 attempts.

New Zealand won the only one of those games played on Bangladesh territory, by 15 runs way back in 2013.

Published in Dawn, September 1st, 2021

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