New Zealand vs Bangladesh First Test Preview and Prediction

Tom Latham in first-class action ahead of the New Zealand vs Bangladesh First Test.

The first test of the New Zealand vs Bangladesh series may look like a mismatch on paper, with New Zealand extremely hard to stop in home conditions and Bangladesh in the midst of a slump, but cricket can always throw in a surprise. As ever, we here at LWOC will be offering our preview and prediction of the first test of the series, but will it be the Black Caps who extend their excellent record at home, or can Bangladesh spring a major upset?

New Zealand vs Bangladesh First Test Preview and Prediction

Recent Form

New Zealand may have lost the series, and their #1 ranking, in India, but they emerged from that tour with some credit in the bank. They batted out the final day in Kanpur, despite being nine wickets down, and although they were then well-beaten in Mumbai, Ajaz Patel did become just the third man in history to take all ten wickets in a Test innings, even if he hasn’t made the squad for this series. Besides which, New Zealand are a completely different animal when they are playing at home.

They have not a lost a series on home turf since South Africa beat them back in 2016/17. Since then, they have got the better of Sri Lanka, the West Indies, their current opponents Bangladesh, Pakistan, England and India. That is a very impressive record, particularly for such a small nation, and it is one they will surely feel confident of improving up against Bangladesh, whose batters have relatively little experience of the conditions they will face in New Zealand.

There is also likely to be little confidence in the Bangladesh squad after a miserable run of form. They did beat Zimbabwe away in a one-off Test earlier this year, but that is the only ‘series’ victory they have recorded since beating Zimbabwe in February 2020. In the meantime, they have lost and lost often, most recently 2-0 to Pakistan at home. They did nearly manage to salvage a draw in the second match of that series, but that had more to do with the weather than their efforts with the bat.

Likely Line-ups

The big news for the Black Caps is that their captain and best batter Kane Williamson will miss the series as he recovers from a troublesome elbow injury that also ruled him out of the second Test in India. Fortunately, batting reserves are deep in New Zealand at the moment. Devon Conway will almost certainly return to take his place at the top of the order to partner stand-in captain Tom Latham. That will most likely see Will Young shuffle down the order to bat at number three.

The veteran Ross Taylor, playing in his final Test series, will take his customary place at number four, with the middle order rounded out by Henry Nicholls and wicket-keeper Tom Blundell. Either Rachin Ravindra or Daryl Mitchell will play as an all-rounder, depending on whether New Zealand feel the need to include a spinner or not. Kyle Jamieson, Trent Boult, Tim Southee and Neil Wagner will combine to form one of the more potent seam-attacks in world cricket.

Just as New Zealand are missing their star name, so too are Bangladesh after all-rounder Shakib Al-Hassan requested and was granted time away from the team. He has been replaced by the uncapped Fazle Mahmud, who will be hoping to score his first runs in international cricket. That may well be the only major change from the team that faced Pakistan at the start of December in Dhaka, at least in terms of the batting line-up.

They will need to make a sharp improvement after their lacklustre efforts on home turf, however. Bangladesh will also need to rely on their pace bowlers more than they tend to when playing in Bangladesh. Unfortunately, due to the conditions they usually play in, they cannot really match the Black Caps in that department. The 20-year-old Shoriful Islam may enjoy the seaming tracks in New Zealand, but it is a concern that their most experienced quick, Abu Jayed, has just 13 caps to his name.

Prediction

This doesn’t just look like a mismatch. It is one. New Zealand’s attack will surely be champing at the bit to take on this batting line-up, which has looked remarkably fragile even in home conditions, nevermind in the sort of seam-friendly conditions they will face when they take on the Black Caps. All four of New Zealand’s frontline quicks are genuine wicket-taking threats and all four will present the Bangladeshi batters with a different challenge.

New Zealand’s batting line-up, in contrast, looks solid even without Williamson. They did collapse in Mumbai, being skittled for just 62, but they were not the first touring team to struggle to adapt to Indian pitches and they will not be the last. Against an inexperienced Bangladesh attack, expect a markedly improved performance. Ultimately, with the Black Caps boasting what looks like such a significant advantage with both bat and ball, there can surely only be one outcome here.

Prediction: New Zealand win.

Main photo:
Embed from Getty Images


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