New Zealand pacers will have to spot on in the first Test © Getty Images
New Zealand pacers will have to spot on in the first Test © Getty Images

After comprehensive victories in One-Day International (ODIs) and T20 Internationals (T20Is), hosts New Zealand would aim to clinch the two-Test series against Bangladesh, commencing January 12. The first Test will be played at Basin Reserve, Wellington from January 12-16 while the second and the final will be at the Hagley Oval, Christchurch from January 20-24. Bangladesh are yet to register a victory on this tour, as they have been whitewashed both in ODIs and T20Is in New Zealand. The hosts, on the other hand, will expect to carry on with the winning momentum which they gained in the home series against Pakistan carried it into Bangladesh series, defeating them in limited-overs cricket.

The hosts are definitely the stronger side given their form and the current situation of their visitors. Moreover, they will receive a boost with the inclusion of Ross Taylor and Trent Boult. Taylor completed a rapid rehabilitation from an eye surgery after he had a small, benign growth removed from his left eye following the series against Pakistan. Boult had missed the second Test against Pakistan due to a knee injury. With the inclusion of these two players New Zealand look even more formidable in their home conditions.

Full Cricket Scorecard: Bangladesh vs New Zealand 1st Test at Wellington

Let us take a look at the possible likely XI which New Zealand can field:

Top Order – Jeet Raval and Tom Latham are most likely to open the batting for the hosts. They both played some gritty knocks against Pakistan and looked in fine touch. Latham has hit form once again after averaging just 22.50 against Pakistan, while Raval had a healthy average of 49.33. Kane Williamson, the Kiwi skipper should walk in at No. 3 for his team. He looked a little out of touch against Pakistan averaging just 30 from two Tests against Pakistan. Williamson will look to warm up for some tough Test cricket ahead in the season against South Africa, with a few big scores against Bangladesh.

Middle Order:  Ross Taylor should walk in at No. 4. Taylor had been out of touch prior to the Pakistan series but his unbeaten 102 in the second innings of the second Test against Pakistan should have helped him boost his confidence. Having made rapid progress from his eye surgery, he would be raring to score more runs and get back in his run-scoring stride. Henry Nicholls should come in to bat after Taylor. Nicholls did not have much success against Pakistan but he stands a chance to make some progress against Bangladesh. BJ Watling averaged 82 in the previous series, and he will want to continue with the good form.

Lower Order: It was in the Pakistan series that New Zealand discovered a great talent named Colin de Grandhomme, who rattled Pakistan with his accurate bowling and gave them no quarter whatsoever in both games. Out of two games, de Grandhomme took 9 wickets with an average of 12.22. Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Neil Wagner should accompany de Grandhomme to complete the New Zealand pace attack and probably one of the best fast bowling attack accompanied with swinging conditions. Mitchell Santner should be the obvious choice for leading the spin attack for New Zealand. He can get the important breakthroughs at crucial junctures of the game and if not in wickets he can always come in handy by applying pause to the opposition scoring.

New Zealand likely XI:  Jeet Raval, Tom Latham, Kane Williamson (c), Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, Colin de Grandhomme, BJ Watling (wk), Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Neil Wagner.