Bangladesh hungry to gain boost for World Cup
MIRPUR, Bangladesh (AP):
After failing to reach this month's Asia Cup final, Bangladesh is hungry to gain a much-needed boost ahead of the 50-over World Cup by beating New Zealand in the three-match ODI series that starts today.
Bangladesh rested a host of key players for the Asia Cup - captain Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim, Najmul Hossain and Towhid Hridoy among them - to keep them fresh and injury-free, although they have still not named their squad for next month's World Cup.
New Zealand has sent only five World Cup-bound players to Bangladesh - stand-in skipper Lockie Ferguson, Trent Boult, Rachin Ravindra, Ish Sodhi and Will Young.
Tamim Iqbal, who stepped down as ODI captain last month, is back for Bangladesh after recovering from a back problem. Mahmudullah, axed after the England series in March following poor form, also returns.
Liton Das, who leads them in Shakib's absence, said: "There are many things to achieve from the series. The first thing is to win, which will be a top achievement ahead of the World Cup.
"We won't play to show just individual brilliance. A five-wicket haul or a century doesn't matter if the team doesn't win."
Ferguson, yet to play on Bangladesh soil, believes conditions will test New Zealand to the limit.
"Bangladesh are good in home conditions and is a huge challenge here," he said. "It's important to focus on what's coming up and adapt as quickly as possible to the conditions. Some of us haven't played here, so we have to adapt quicker."
New Zealand haven't won an ODI match in the country since 2008, and Ferguson said the input of former Bangladesh bowling coach Shane Jurgensen would be invaluable.
"We're leaning on the knowledge of the guys who have been here previously and leaning on Jurgensen about how to play the game, construct our innings with the bat and try to defend it with the ball, or vice versa," he said.