Bangladesh will seek to wrap up the T20I series on Wednesday, despite New Zealand’s demonstration that they can compete. Mahmudullah’s men have a good home record, which interestingly dates back to 2010, when they won a 4-0 ODI series against the Black Caps to launch their supremacy. Nonetheless, New Zealand’s 52-run victory on Sunday was only their second in bilateral matches in Bangladesh in the last 11 years.
Tom Latham’s inexperienced but feisty side managed to keep the series alive, and their spinners appear to be improving. Ajaz Patel is heading the charge, and after picking up four wickets in the previous game – Mahedi Hasan, Shakib Al Hasan, Mahmudullah, and Afif Hossain, an amazing collection – his confidence will be sky high.
New Zealand’s seamers Jacob Duffy and Scott Kuggeleijn have also bowled cheaply, providing variation to the bowling assault that Bangladesh has struggled with.
Given the Mirpur pitch’s sluggish, low, and rapidly spinning nature, New Zealand have presumably realized that hitting gaps is more crucial than looking for boundaries. On Sunday, Finn Allen got them off to a flying start, but they fell to 62 for 5 in the 11th over. Henry Nicholls and Tom Blundell had to settle in a little before exploding for 33 runs in the final three overs.
Bangladesh, on the other hand, still has a comfortable 2-1 lead in the series and a plethora of players capable of producing match-winning performances, whether it’s their spin three (Shakib, Mahedi, Nasum Ahmed) or their death bowling specialists (Mustafizur Rahman and Mohammad Saifuddin). Young pacer Shoriful Islam and leg spinner Aminul Islam are also waiting in the wings.
The only concern is the batting, primarily because they have experimented with the No. 3 spot unnecessarily. Having Shakib there, together with Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmmdullah, and leaving the finishing chores to Mahedi, Afif, and Nurul Hasan, should provide the ideal balance for the XI.
Liton Das, the series’ mysterious protagonist, has already squandered two promising starts, which is nothing new because everyone has come to anticipate it. Liton has stated that he needs to be more responsible. Will he ever live up to his full potential?
Ajaz Patel began the series with the second-most economical stint bowled by a New Zealander in men’s T20Is, before his four-wicket haul secured the team’s first victory on tour. Patel has handled the circumstances as effectively as, if not better than, the Bangladeshi spinners, and has looked dangerous in nearly every spell. With two more strong performances, Patel might be first in line if New Zealand decides to add an extra spinner to their T20 World Cup roster.