Mushfiqur’s Bangladesh wary of New Zealand threat
Bangladesh are yet to beat New Zealand in an ODI on their home soil and Mushfiqur Rahim would be keen to change that. (AFP Image)

As part of their final preparation for the World Cup, Bangladesh will tour New Zealand for three ODIs and three Tests starting February 13 and skipper Mushfiqur Rahim believes Kane Williamson and his side will pose a threat to the Asia Cup runner-up. Despite India bulldozing them 4-1 in the recently-concluded one-day series, Mushfiqur feels a wounded New Zealand will come hard at Bangladesh.

“It will be a difficult challenge in New Zealand,” Mushfiqur said. “India won the ODI series but New Zealand fought really hard. They have a really good bowling attack, but I believe that our team will do well.”

That said, the Bangladesh captain admitted that playing New Zealand on their soil is the ideal preparation they’d have hoped for. With conditions familiar to those in England, Mushfiqur is confident of Bangladesh getting some positives from the tour. It is to be noted that Bangladesh have never beaten New Zealand in their country and the last time they toured here, in 2016-17, they were hammered 0-3 in ODIs and T20s and blanked 0-2 in Tests.

“We ran them close in two (out of three) ODIs on our last New Zealand tour, in Nelson and Christchurch. If Mosaddek and I had batted for longer, things would have been different. It will be the ideal preparation ahead of the World Cup. There may be high-scoring matches. If we can overcome those challenges, it will only help us for the future,” Mushfiqur said.

He however expressed concerns over the timing of the series. Mushfiqur just got done with the Bangladesh Premier League as his franchise Chittagong Vikings were eliminated following a six-wicket loss to Dhaka Dynamites. However, the fact that Mushfiqur was the leading run-scorer in the team with 426 runs at a strike rate of 193.21 bodes well for Bangladesh, who would be eager to register their first win.

“Ideally there should be a week’s break (after the BPL) but still, our first game is on February 13. So we have seven or eight days left. We are in match practice, so there can’t be anything better than that. It helps you fitness-wise too,” said Mushfiqur.

“I wanted to play a match-winning knock today but it didn’t happen. I feel that I am slightly happier than previous tournaments. I have got out of some tough situations, and believed in myself a little more.”

The Vikings finished with 14 points having won seven of 12 matches. Despite the elimination, Mushfiqur was proud that the team reached the position that it did, which was mainly because of the lack of expectations.

“We had the belief to finish in the top four. There was little pressure on us. We didn’t have the team on paper but we wanted to show that despite being a low-budget side, we can set an example with a good result,” he said. “I think if we had better foreign inclusions after winning five games, things could have been different. If we leave out today, I think we had a good tournament.”