Cricket World Cup: Bangladesh to exploit Black Caps' 'chinks'

7:00 pm on 5 June 2019

By Simon Hampton

Opinion - At his pre-match press conference, Bangladesh head coach Steve Rhodes spoke of a chink in the Black Caps armour.

Black Caps wicketkeeper Tom Latham pulls off a stumping in an ODI against Bangladesh.

The Black Caps swept Bangladesh in their recent ODI series in New Zealand, but Bangladesh coach Steve Rhodes believes his side knows how to beat the Kiwis. Photo: Photosport

It's worth noting he also showered them in praise, highlighting the likes of Kane Williamson and the Trent Boult-led pace attack as the foundation of New Zealand's strong team. But that was predictable, it was mention of the weaknesses that stood out.

He wouldn't elaborate, but his willingness to mention it amongst the constant praise of opposition was a sign that the the 11-Test Englishman leads a Bangladeshi side brimming with confidence.

And why shouldn't they be?

This is a team that toppled South Africa earlier this week, and in Shakib al-Hasan, possess one of the game's top allrounders.

He may not be a household name but Shakib hasn't fallen out of the top three ranked allrounders in ODI cricket since 2009.

His left-arm spin could be pivotal to Bangladesh's hopes of pulling off another upset with victory over New Zealand.

They'll view New Zealand as being susceptible against spin, and it's something the Black Caps moved to prepare for by drafting in test match left-arm spinner Ajaz Patel - who's playing club cricket in London - for their net session this week.

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They'll also have plenty of confidence stemming from their 2017 Champions Trophy win against New Zealand in Cardiff.

On that day, they recovered from 33/4 to chase down New Zealand's 266, with Shakib's 114 proving the match-winner.

The Black Caps will still be deserved favourites for the clash at The Oval in London.

With Tim Southee and Henry Nicholls again ruled out, Matt Henry and Colin Munro will know that if they can back up their impressive showings against Sri Lanka with another strong performance, they'll make themselves very hard to leave out once the squad returns to full fitness.

The injured duo appear to be progressing well, though with a tight turnaround ahead of the Afghanistan match on Saturday it may yet be that they aren't risked then either, with far bigger matches to come later in the tournament.

Nicholls was padded up and had an indoor net today, while Southee's been seen doing some light bowling off a short run up.

The Oval pitch spent most of the day under cover as London's weather doused the field, washing out Bangladesh's training session and halting the Black Caps' session after just 30 minutes.

It's hard to know yet how that'll affect the pitch, which is a fresh one from the one that Bangladesh beat South Africa on earlier in the week, although it almost certainly won't be as green as the one the Black Caps played on in Cardiff.

So Bangladesh will provide a much sterner test for the Black Caps than Sri Lanka did, but there's no reason why the Kiwis shouldn't make it two wins from two to start the tournament with victory at The Oval tonight.

*Simon Hampton is a freelance journalist covering the Cricket World Cup for New Zealand media. He has previously worked for Newshub and Newstalk ZB in Wellington.