PALLEKELE: Bangladesh will be hoping star all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan shines with both bat and ball if they are to have a chance of upsetting New Zealand in the World T20 Group D opener here on Friday.
The dashing 25-year-old left-hander has been promoted to number three in the last few matches to give an ideal start to the innings which is opened by another aggressive left-hander Tamim Iqbal.
Hasan is also an effective left-arm spinner, often picking up some much-needed wickets in the middle overs.
Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim said Hasan's presence gives strength to the team.
“Hasan is our best cricketer,” said Rahim.
“Hasan is now playing more freely than ever before, not just with the bat and ball but also on the field and off it as well. His presence means a lot.”
Rahim, who replaced Hasan as captain last year, is confident his team will get through the group stage, where they will also meet 2009 champions Pakistan.
“We are confident of going through to the Super Eight. We are in a tough group. But our team is quite balanced so we need to get the basics right and if we execute our plans then we can beat any team in the world,” said Rahim.
The top two teams from each of the four groups will qualify for the Super Eight stage. Bangladesh have bitter memories of the only Twenty20 played between the two teams two years ago. They lost the match in Hamilton after being shot out for 78.
New Zealand will wait on the fitness of Daniel Vettori, Tim Southee and Rob Nicol after the trio suffered gastric problems.
Captain Ross Taylor hoped all three would be fit for the match.
“We don't know whether we will have the full quota of players because every couple of hours they are feeling a little better. The weather is bit colder so hopefully they can gain some energy and be available to play,” said Taylor.
“They took part in training today,” New Zealand media manager Ellery Tappin told Reuters.
“They obviously have low immunity, but they went through the training well. Highly likely they will be available for the match tomorrow (Friday).”
In contrast to Bangladesh's reliance on spinners, New Zealand will look to seamers for wickets.
“I guess we will be looking to our seamers to have a big play in the tournament. A few of our players played in the Sri Lankan league (in August this year) and had some success,” said Taylor, who believed the Bangladeshi left-arm spinners would not pose problems for his batsmen.