Pallekele: Two giant-killers who have a reputation of disturbing set calculations will be up against each other when New Zealand and Bangladesh clash in their opening Group D match of the World Twenty20 here on Friday.
Both Bangladesh and New Zealand are known to raise the bar when it comes to performing at major ICC events and it would be interesting to see which of the two manages to go a notch higher in the one-on-one battle.
New Zealand’s build up to the event has been far from ideal as three of their key players, including inspirational former skipper Daniel Vettori and pacer Tim Southee, have been laid low by gastroenteritis.
The Kiwis’ warm-up campaign was also disappointing as they lost both their matches. It has been a far from ideal stay in the island nation so far for them but New Zealand’s cricketers are well known for fighting through the odds and put up creditable performances.
Led by an in-form and explosive Ross Taylor, the Kiwis seem a decent Twenty20 side with hard-hitting stars such Brendon McCullum and veteran all-rounder Jacob Oram.
In Kane Williamson, they have discovered a top-order batsman who can provide steady starts. Though, their major problem remains inconsistency and the failure to click as a unit.
Despite a seemingly balanced line-up on paper, the Kiwis have more often than not been guilty of throwing it away from strong positions.
Their bowling department is faced with similar problems but Vettori could prove to be their trump card on the turning tracks here.
Bangladesh, on the other hand, are a sprightly mix which lost one and won one practice game heading into the big event.
Most of the team’s players are in their early 20s and what could work to their advantage is the comfort of the playing in home-like conditions.
The likes of Tamim Iqbal, Shakib Al Hasan and skipper Mushfiqur Rahim hold the key to their batting fortunes while Mashrafe Mortaza and Abdur Razzak will be leading the bowling department.
What the Tigers would be banking on is the element of surprise they bring in. Diminutive they might be in physical appearance but their lion-hearted approach to the game has won Bangladesh’s cricketers many an applause.
Given their similar fearless approach, it seems to be an interesting clash of the underdogs.
Bangladesh: 1 Abdur Razzak, 2 Al-Amin Hossain, 3 Imrul Kayes, 4 Junaid Siddique, 5 Mashrafe Mortaza, 6 Mohammad Ashraful, 7 Mushfiqur Rahim (c), 8 Shahadat Hossain, 9 Shakib Al Hasan, 10 Tamim Iqbal, 11 Ziaur Rahman.
New Zealand: 1 Ross Taylor (c), 2 Doug Bracewell, 3 James Franklin, 4 Martin Guptill, 5 Brendon McCullum, 6 Nathan McCullum, 7 Kyle Mills, 8 Jacob Oram, 9 Tim Southee, 10 Daniel Vettori, 11 Kane Williamson.