New Zealand would want to end the year on a high by recording their first clean sweep in a three-match series since February 2012. © AFP

New Zealand would want to end the year on a high by recording their first clean sweep in a three-match series since February 2012. © AFP

It has been a year of mixed fortunes for Bangladesh. They defied odds to qualify for the Asia Cup T20 final against India at home, but then messed up an easy chase against the same opponents in the World Twenty20 in Bangalore. The ghosts of that one-run defeat left deep scars, but the players picked themselves up superbly after a Test win against England at home that left the two-match series level.

Bangladesh’s up and down ride through 2016 was best captured in the second One-Day International against New Zealand in Nelson. Chasing 252, Bangladesh were comfortably placed at 105 for 1 at one stage but lost the last nine wickets for 79 runs to go down by 67 runs.

Batting collapses have been Bangladesh’s bane, and though the last ODI at Saxton Oval in Nelson on Saturday (December 31) is a dead rubber, Bangladesh will not be taking it easy. They are without the services of the injured Mushfiqur Rahim, and will want to end the year with a win, which will help them build on the gains of 2016 as they seek to put out more consistent performances.

Mashrafe Mortaza, the captain, who returned figures of 3 for 49 – his first three-wicket haul against a Test nation in an away game in more than two years – was left clearly disappointed after the second ODI.

“Teams from the subcontinent who tour New Zealand look for the sort of opportunities that we got today,” Mortaza said after the loss on Thursday. “In the first game we were in the game even though we had given away 40 runs too many.

“Today the batting collapse was unexpected because we were showing how flat the wicket was,” he added. “We have let go of a big chance, and had we taken it, we could have played the next match comfortably.”

Mortaza felt that the batsmen “could have been a lot more patient” and spent “a bit of time in the middle”. These were strong remarks from a captain who has been at the receiving end more often than not, despite Bangladesh’s growing reputation as a fighting team.

New Zealand, on the other hand, would want to end the year on a high by recording their first clean sweep in a three-match series since February 2012, when they blanked Zimbabwe at home. Since then they have won 12 series, including the ongoing one, but have never tasted the sweet success of a whitewash in a contest featuring three or more games. In fact, Bangladesh had swept them 3-0 in November 2013 in Bangladesh, so there is a matter of settling a score there too.

New Zealand started 2016 with the retirement of Brendon McCullum. Kane Williamson’s first full-time assignment as captain was the World T20, and the manner in which they dominated the league stages was impressive. The loss to England in the semifinal undid all the hard work. The tours of South Africa, India and Australia also did not pan out as envisaged, but things started to fall back in place in the home summer. The Test series win against Pakistan and the ODI series triumph over Bangladesh has been scripted on the back of several individual performances.

The first two matches against Bangladesh saw players like Neil Broom and Lockie Ferguson get opportunities to prove their worth. New Zealand would be hoping for more fresh faces to make the last game of the year count.

Teams (from)
New Zealand: Kane Williamson (capt), Martin Guptill, Tom Latham, Neil Broom, Colin Munro, Jimmy Neesham, Luke Ronchi (wk), Mitchell Santner, Colin de Grandhomme, Matt Henry, Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Lockie Ferguson.

Bangladesh: Mashrafe Mortaza (capt), Tamim Iqbal, Imrul Kayes, Soumya Sarkar, Sabbir Rahman, Nurul Hasan (wk), Mahmudullah, Shakib Al Hasan, Mosaddek Hossain, Rubel Hossain, Taskin Ahmed, Mustafizur Rahman, Mehedi Hasan, Subashis Roy, Tanveer Haider, Mominul Haque, Shuvagata Hom, Nazmul Hossain Shanto, Taijul Islam, Kamrul Islam, Ebadat Hossain, Mehedi Maruf.