It’s the unknown that often stings.
What do we expect? What trickeries do the bowlers conjure up? Which is the preferred region of a particular batter? What are the possible weaknesses and strengths?
These and more questions haunt teams ahead of a first clash. Or well, they used to. It can’t be said that the same situation exists right now, in the day and age of video footages and what not.
It’s in this backdrop that New Zealand and Bangladesh clash at the Junction Oval in Melbourne on Saturday (February 29). Both the teams are coming off losses.
“We probably rue a couple of opportunities in the field. I thought we bowled extremely well to come back from the start India got in that powerplay,” said Katey Martin after New Zealand’s loss to India. “We’ve been making big strides in our fielding. I think we’ve got a really big focus of getting off the boundary ripe, and there are some tough chances.”
As seen from those statements, the Kiwis, at many points, let the game slip or didn’t take it by the scruff of its neck. Dropped catches, patchy fielding and then a crumbling middle-order, all those undid the bowlers’ good work.
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At the other end of the spectrum are Bangladesh, who again have a new opponent in New Zealand. After their huge loss against Australia, Fargana Hoque talked about learning from that ‘unknown’ experience and also a thing or two about the conditions in Melbourne. But it’s also the lack of exposure that Bangladesh have, specially against the top teams, that has hampered them. During the game, Anju Jain, Bangladesh’s coach, spoke about just that and how the Bangladesh Cricket Board is trying to organise more games for the girls.
“Ideally, we would have preferred to play more games against the big teams. The more number of games you play the more you get experience,” she had said. It’s no doubt that on the outside, the Asian side looks a mere walkover, given the strength of the Kiwis. But the Sophie Devine-led side would know that taking them lightly won’t help, given Bangladesh had downed India to be the Asia Cup champions. More so because in T20, it is often a levelled playing field.
It is clear that it will be a shootout between Australia and New Zealand in Group A for the semi-final spot. Given that the hosts have a superior net run rate, their trans-Tasman opponents would like to improve that aspect when they take field against Bangladesh.
Will they be successful at that?
New Zealand: Sophie Devine (c), Suzie Bates, Lauren Down, Maddy Green, Holly Huddleston, Hayley Jensen, Leigh Kasperek, Amelia Kerr, Jess Kerr, Rosemary Mair, Katey Martin, Katie Perkins, Anna Peterson, Rachel Priest, Lea Tahuhu.
Bangladesh: Salma Khatun (captain), Rumana Ahmed (vice-captain), Jahanara Alam, Shamima Sultana, Murshida Khatun Happy, Ayesha Rahman, Nigar Sultana Joty, Sanjida Islam, Khadija-Tul-Kubra, Panna Ghosh, Fargana Haque Pinki, Nahida Akhter, Fahima Khatun, Ritu Moni, Sobhana Mostary.