Bangladesh, 0-1 down in the three-match One-Day International series in New Zealand, were dealt a blow ahead of the second ODI, to be played in Nelson on Thursday (December 29), with Mushfiqur Rahim ruled out of the remaining games because of a hamstring injury.
Rahim, one of Bangladesh’s better performers in the first ODI in Christchurch on Monday when he scored 42 before retiring hurt with the niggle, will be out for at least two weeks, Chandika Hathurusinghe, the team’s coach, announced on Wednesday morning.
“We are looking at two weeks, anything before is a bonus,” said Hathurusinghe. “He’s been one of the form batters as well as the wicketkeeper for a long time, across all three formats, so it’s a blow but that’s part and parcel of the game.”
New Zealand won the first game by 77 runs after scoring 341 for 7 and bowling Bangladesh out for 264 in 44.5 overs.
As a consequence of the injury, Rahim will not only miss the rest of the ODIs, but also the three-match Twenty20 International series that takes place before the two Test matches.
Nurul Hasan, a part of the overall touring party of 23 players but not in the 15-man squad for the first ODI, gets a chance to make his debut in Rahim’s absence, that too at a ground that has happy memories for Bangladesh. They hold the record for the highest team total at Saxton Oval in ODIs, 322 for 4 against Scotland during the 2015 World Cup.
“History says we have played well here. It’s a good thing and it’s not a long way back, with most of the players involved in that game, so it’s a good memory,” agreed Hathurusinghe. “That kind of thing helps. Even in the last game, getting 270, although we lost a couple of early wickets, has given us confidence going in to the next game.”
In Christchurch, Tamim Iqbal (38 in 59 balls), Shakib Al Hasan, who top-scored with a 54-ball 59 after being Bangladesh’s most successful bowler with 3 for 69, and Mosaddek Hossain (50 not out in 44) were the best batsmen apart from Rahim, and the team would be looking at the first two, the experienced campaigners, to shore up the batting along with Mahmudullah at No. 4.
At the same time, Nelson, known as a high-scoring venue, could pose problems for the bowlers of the visiting side, who conceded a pile of runs in the first game.
New Zealand, riding on Tom Latham’s 121-ball 137 and Colin Munro’s 87 from 61 balls, put up a big score as all the bowlers bar Mosaddek, the offspinner, conceded upwards of six runs an over, and Taskin Ahmed going for 70 from his nine overs. Mustafizur Rahman, the International Cricket Council’s Emerging Player of the Year, must lead the attack in Nelson after returning 2 for 62 in what was his first match on return from shoulder surgery. And there might a temptation to blood Mehedi Hasan, the star of Bangladesh’s series-levelling effort in the Test series at home against England earlier this year, to try and exploit any weakness the New Zealanders might have against quality offspin.
From New Zealand’s point of view, after being flayed by Australia 3-0 earlier this month, which came on the back of a 2-3 series defeat in India, the team got back on the right side of the ledger with the win in the first ODI. Kane Williamson, the New Zealand captain, came out promising aggression prior to the series, and the team certainly showed the right intent with the bat.
Following the Australia drubbing, New Zealand resisted the urge for wholesale changes but did recall veterans Neil Broom and Luke Ronchi, both of whom featured in the Christchurch game but didn’t do much with the bat. With Ross Taylor missing following eye surgery, the onus is squarely on the likes of Williamson and Martin Guptill, the stars in the line-up, to do the big job with the bat. After moderate returns in the first game, the two men would be geared up for the challenge.
New Zealand, ranked No. 4 on the International Cricket Council table, are the favourites, but Bangladesh, who certainly didn’t disgrace themselves in the first game, would be desperate to keep their recent surge – though mainly at home – going and put up a performance that belies their No. 7 ranking. If they can do that, the series will stay alive. New Zealand, meanwhile, are sure to try and seal it with one game in hand.
New Zealand: Kane Williamson (capt), Martin Guptill, Tom Latham, Neil Broom, Colin Munro, Jimmy Neesham, Luke Ronchi (wk), Mitchell Santner, Colin de Grandhomme, Matt Henry, Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Lockie Ferguson.
Bangladesh: Mashrafe Mortaza (capt), Tamim Iqbal, Imrul Kayes, Soumya Sarkar, Sabbir Rahaman, Nurul Hasan (wk), Mahmudullah, Shakib Al Hasan, Mosaddek Hossain, Rubel Hossain, Taskin Ahmed, Mustafizur Rahman, Mehedi Hasan, Subashis Roy, Tanveer Haider, Momnul Haque, Shuvagata Hom, Nazmul Hossain Shanto, Taijul Islam, Kamrul Islam Rabbi, Ebadat Hossain, Mehedi Maruf.