A win remains elusive for Bangladesh while New Zealand have their eyes on claiming an unprecedented ninth consecutive home series. Going by their form and confidence in the three ODIs and the first T20I in Hamilton, Napier is appearing to be a repeat: Bangladesh being left behind by New Zealand’s high-octane cricket.
The charge is being led by Devon Conway, who made his international debut at the start of the 2020-21 season, and now has scores of 72, 126 and 92 not out in his last three innings. His innings included some beautiful shots, as well as periods when he let Will Young, on debut, go after the bowling. Glenn Phillips provided the flourish as they combined to blast 101 runs in the last seven overs in Hamilton. Later it was Ish Sodhi whose four wickets in eleven balls sunk Bangladesh completely.
Only Mohammad Naim with his 18-ball 27 at the top and Afif Hossain‘s 45, after they lost six wickets, looked comfortable against New Zealand’s pace attack. Liton Das and Soumya Sarkar continued their slump while Mohammad Mithun and Mahmudullah couldn’t bring their ODI form to the first T20I.
Bangladesh’s bowling wore an experimental look, with Taskin Ahmed and Rubel Hossain rested despite both bowling at good pace and showing discipline in the third ODI in Wellington. Mustafizur Rahman and Mohammad Saifuddin couldn’t contain New Zealand’s scoring, while newcomer Shoriful Islam, despite all his promise, made a nervous start.
While stranger things have happened in cricket, it just doesn’t seem like Bangladesh have it in them to turn things around on this tour. They have looked listless under pressure every time, particularly reflected through their lackluster fielding.
New Zealand are a formidable opponent particularly at home and even though they are without half of their best T20 players, they don’t look like stopping against these visitors.
(last five completed matches)
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In the spotlight
Ish Sodhi has already taken 20 wickets at 13.75 in T20Is during the 2020-21 season. He needed only 11 balls to tie up the Bangladesh batsmen in Hamilton, picking up four wickets. Sodhi will be a menacing factor in the remaining matches.
Mohammad Naim sparkled briefly in Hamilton, hammering 27 off 18 balls with five fours. Premeditation against Lockie Ferguson brought about his wicket, but he looked mostly comfortable driving the New Zealand quicks.
With a series win to confirm in Napier, New Zealand may remain unchanged in the second T20I. However, including Adam Milne could be a temptation against a struggling opposition.
New Zealand (probable) 1 Finn Allen, 2 Martin Guptill, 3 Devon Conway (wk), 4 Will Young, 5 Glenn Phillips, 6 Mark Chapman, 7 Daryl Mitchell, 8 Tim Southee (capt), 9 Ish Sodhi, 10, Lockie Ferguson, 11 Hamish Bennett
Bangladesh will sweat on Mushfiqur Rahim’s fitness, while Najmul Hossain Shanto could replace Soumya Sarkar at No. 3. Either one of Taskin Ahmed or Rubel Hossain can also expect to play.
Bangladesh (probable) 1 Liton Das (wk), 2 Mohammad Naim, 3 Soumya Sarkar/Najmul Hossain Shanto, 4 Mohammad Mithun, 5 Mahmudullah (capt), 6 Afif Hossain, 7 Mahedi Hasan, 8 Mohammad Saifuddin, 9 Shoriful Islam/Taskin Ahmed, 10 Nasum Ahmed, 11 Mustafizur Rahman
Pitch and conditions
Batsmen will relish at the prospect of batting on the evenly-paced pitches of McLean Park which will also have shorter boundaries. Weather however is slightly iffy with rain in the forecast later in the evening.
Stats and trivia
- Shoriful Islam’s figures of 4-0-50-0 in Hamilton is the worst bowling figures by a Bangladeshi bowler on T20I debut.
- Finn Allen became only the third New Zealander to be out for a golden duck on their T20I debut.
“Bangladesh’s young batsmen played some really aggressive and expansive shots. Grounds like Napier and Eden Park are going to be challenging to bowl to these guys. We have to be really patient and keep working hard.”
New Zealand legspinner Ish Sodhi remains wary of the opposition despite figures of 4-28 in the first T20I in Hamilton.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84
Recent Match Report – Essex vs Worcs Group 1 2021
Worcestershire 364 (Mitchell 67, D’Oliveira 67, Fell 53) and 129 for 2 (Libby 52*, Cook 2-7) drew with Essex 561 for 8 dec (Cook 115, Westley 113, Lawrence 90, Walter 65, Harmer 57*)
When spectators are finally allowed back into New Road, they will be greeted by something of a sad sight. Two of the horse chestnut trees that have overlooked the ground for many years have gone; felled to prevent the disease they suffered spreading to the fortunate remaining tree.
As this match has worn on, however, the suspicion has grown that the two trees were the lucky ones. Indeed, an alternate theory is they hacked themselves down as they could no longer bear to watch the grim cricket being played in front of them.
That is not to decry the efforts of the two sides in this match. Both fought hard throughout. There was no shortage of skill or commitment on offer in this game.
But 40 wickets have now fallen at this ground in eight days of cricket this season. And, while a total of 2,002 runs in that time might make it sound as if there has been a feast of batting, the run-rate has been 2.75 per over. It is not a wicket that is good for batters, bowlers or spectators. At times in this match, there were six fielders on the boundary and batters were more concerned with shovelling out low-bouncing grubbers than thinking of the stokes they might play. You could almost imagine the poor remaining tree calling out for a lumberjack.
Such a track has not been designed. Instead, the club are dealing with the consequences of severe winter flooding followed by a dry but cold March. As a result, there has been little grass growth. The groundstaff cannot be blamed.
It does make for pretty grim cricket, though. You wonder whether the use of heat lamps – to promote grass growth – or hybrid surfaces – which are now routinely used in limited-overs cricket – might play a part in finding a solution. But Worcestershire are going to find it desperately tough to win games here if the wickets are like this. The extra points provided for a draw this season do little to discourage such tracks.
“It was a low, slow, turgid wicket,” Essex head coach Anthony McGrath said afterwards. “It was tough for bowlers and not free-flowing for batsmen. When Simon Harmer isn’t getting any turn at nearly 5pm on the fourth evening, you know things are tough. It’s been a grind. It’s not made for great watching.
“I’d be open-minded about trials of hybrid pitches. In some circumstances, like those we’ve seen here, it might be worth experimenting.”
For a moment, in mid-morning, the game briefly flickered into life. Worcestershire, apparently cruising at 313 for 5, were suddenly 326 for 9, with Sam Cook claiming 3 for 1 in 16 deliveries.
But a 10th-wicket stand of 38 between Dillon Pennington and Charlie Morris arrested the slide. It wasn’t so much the runs the pair scored as the fact they kept Essex out in the field for an extra 15 overs. Essex had no choice but to enforce the follow-on – there were three overs of Worcestershire’s second innings before lunch on the fourth day – but by then they had already bowled 138.1 overs.
Perhaps it showed. While Cook remained dangerous, the rest of attack looked understandably jaded. Peter Siddle bowled three overs before he was taken off with a few to challenges ahead – Essex start their next game at Trent Bridge on Thursday – and Cook had to be rested at some stage. He may well be rested for that match.
The result leaves Essex one from the bottom of Group One with one victory in four matches. But though that is an unflattering position, there is little reason for concern. They have dominated long stretches of the last two games and, even now, are only five points from the top spot.
Cook, in particular, emerged with great credit from this game. On a surface on which Siddle, for example, finished wicketless, Cook delivered 40 overs (19 of them maidens) and claimed 6 for 67. It was an immense performance which deserved rather better from the conditions.
Nagging away like toothache, Cook invariably hits a good length and can swing the ball away. But it was the one that nipped back that accounted for Ben Cox, beaten through the gate, and then, in the second-innings, Daryl Mitchell, leaving one that took his off stump.
He is not especially quick – perhaps 80 mph – but, in another playing age, an age when the likes of Steve Watkin, Richard Ellison or Tim Munton were playing for England, Cook might well be close to a national call-up. Right now, with the likes of Craig Overton and Ollie Robinson ahead of him, he seems some way back in the challenge. But he is a terrific bowler and if the chance did come, he wouldn’t let England down.
Much the same could be said of Simon Harmer. He has now bowled nearly 100 more overs than anyone else in the County Championship this season (he has bowled 262.4; the next busiest bowler is Jack Carson with 167.2) and in this game alone bowled 73 overs.
Worcestershire were, once again, grateful for the solidity of Jake Libby. His half-century here took his season average above 100 and left him as one of only 10 men to have scored 400 Championship runs this season. He has proved an excellent signing.
This result leaves Worcestershire third in the table but just two points off the top spot. They play Warwickshire, who are top, at Edgbaston this week with Josh Tongue and Joe Leach in line to freshen up an attack that has spent a lot of time on its feet of late. Jack Haynes may also come in for Gareth Roderick, who looks short of confidence at present.
In the end, though, nothing anyone did on this pitch made any difference.
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo
Recent Match Report – Leics vs Gloucs Group 2 2021
Cockbain scores a century and Lace 97 as fourth-wicket stand worth 224 sees hosts home
Gloucestershire 275 (Dent 53, Wright 7-53) and 348 for 6 (Cockbain 117, Lace 97) beat Leicestershire 421 (Hill 121, Evans 102, Harris 62, Mike 54, Worrall 5-79) and 201 for 9 dec (Higgins 5-62) by 4 wickets
Cockbain and Lace arrived just after lunch at 52 for 3 when winning the game was fanciful but they played calmly through to tea to leave 216 to win from 37 overs of the final session.
Their intent was immediate and they extended their stand to 224. Lace couldn’t see the chase through and Cockbain fell for 117 so it was left to George Hankins to strike the winning runs.
It was the fourth-highest Championship run chase in Gloucestershire’s history, a third victory to take them top of Group 2 and a remarkable turnaround having conceded a first-innings lead of 146.
Leicestershire were denied 22 overs on the third evening through bad light and rain and it denied them the chance to totally close the door on their hosts while giving them enough time to bowl them out again.
The Foxes left themselves 82 overs in the fourth innings and when the top three all fell cheaply, a first win of the season was possible.
But Lace and Cockbain batted through the afternoon to raise prospects of saving the game before having a dip in the final session.
Cockbain flicked Alex Evans to fine leg for four, pulled him over square leg for six and then pulled Chris Wright for four to raise a first first-class half-century since April 2016 – this being just his fifth game since then.
He skipped at Callum Parkinson’s left-arm spin to lift him over deep midwicket for six and flat-batted Wright over long-off for another maximum to bring the target down to 100 from 17 overs before pulling Wright for two to raise his century in 166 balls with nine fours and three sixes. He finally fell skying a catch to mid-off but by then the game was effectively won.
Lace initially led the resistance after lunch. He straight-drove Wright for four to go to a second fifty of the season and was on the cusp of a maiden century for Gloucestershire before top-edging a pull from Parkinson to midwicket.
Leicestershire stumbled over their morning’s work in being bowled out for 201 and, without the injured Dieter Klein, were powerless to stop the Glosters’ evening charge.
Recent Match Report – Punjab Kings vs Capitals 29th Match 2021
Agarwal’s 99 on IPL captaincy debut in vain as Kings slump to fifth loss in eight matches
Delhi Capitals 167 for 3 (Dhawan 69*, Shaw 39) beat Punjab Kings 166 for 6 (Agarwal 99*, Rabada 3-36) by seven wickets
On his IPL captaincy debut, Mayank Agarwal scored 60% of Punjab Kings’ runs in fewer than half the balls but his unbeaten 99 was not enough to push his side to a total that would challenge Delhi Capitals in the chase. Prithvi Shaw and Shikhar Dhawan broke the back of the chase in the Powerplay, and Dhawan went on to seal the win, reclaiming the orange cap as he did so. A sixth win in eight matches took capitals to the top of the table.
Replacing KL Rahul, who had to be pulled out because of appendicitis, Agarwal found himself in a Rahul-like predicament. Losing wickets at the other end added extra slowness to his apparent role of batting through the innings, but a Rahul-like finishing kick took him from 40 off 34 to 99 off 58. However, as with Rahul, you need at least one quick contribution from the other end to make the strategy work. Agarwal found none, with IPL debutant Dawid Malan‘s run-a-ball 26 being the only other contribution to talk of.
Ishant circles the prey, Rabada swoops in
Ishant Sharma, an under-rated part of Capitals’ success, began the match with a maiden to Prabhsimran Singh, moving the ball either way to tie up the batter. With just 15 off the first three overs, Capitals knew there was an opportunity around. On came Kagiso Rabada and for the first time in the IPL took two wickets in the Powerplay. The under-pressure Prabhsimran found mid-off, and Gayle missed a swinging full toss that hit the top of off. Kings 39 for 2 at the end of the Powerplay.
Two men drop anchor
Against two fingerspinners, Lalit Yadav and Axar Patel, Agarwal and Malan failed to transfer the pressure back on to the bowlers. Only one boundary came in the next five overs. The spinners denied them the rank bad ball, and the batsmen weren’t too keen to take risks on good balls.
Malan began the 12th over at 11 off 17, but a bowling change to pace brought some freedom for him. The freedom was short-lived as Axar came back to knock his leg stump over. The run-out of Deepak Hooda followed to make it 88 for 2 in the 14th over.
Agarwal takes off
At this point, Agarwal had faced only 29 of the 81 legal deliveries bowled for a debate-inducing 35. Not only did he turn around the share of strike in the remaining innings, Agarwal corrected the strike-rate too. He faced 29 of the remaining 39 balls, sending nine of them past the fence and scoring 64 additional runs. The remaining 10 balls brought two wickets and 10 runs. The hitting was breathtaking but it was also evidence that the pitch was easy enough to hit through the line of the ball.
Dhawan, Shaw carry on the fireworks
And the Capitals batting is built to hit through the line. Before this match, three of the top four Powerplay scores in this IPL belonged to Capitals. They duly made a fourth entry in the top five with an unbeaten 63 in the first six overs. Believe it or not, it came after Riley Meredith troubled both Dhawan and Shaw in his first two overs. Against other bowlers, though, Shaw ran riot and Dhawan followed suit. Shaw hit three sixes and three fours in the Powerplay, and Dhawan managed four fours. It included a first-ball six off Kings’ key bowler in the middle overs, Ravi Bishnoi.
Dhawan carries on
Shaw perished trying to dominate everyone, bowled first ball by left-arm spinner Harpreet Brar, but he left the job to a man in the T20 form of his life. Dhawan might not be brightest star while Shaw is around, but what a side won’t do to have a second fiddle who is averaging xx and striking at xx per 100 balls.
The start gave Dhawan and Steven Smith some breathing space as they added just 34 in the first five overs of their partnership. Dhawan, though, settled any nerves in the dugout by unleashing his slog sweep against Bishnoi. It didn’t matter which way Bishnoi turned it; Dhawan took 25 off the 12th and 14th overs, making it 41 required off the last six even though he lost Smith in between.
If there was any doubt this was a done deal, Shimron Hetmyer removed it with two sixes and a four to end it in the 18th over.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo
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