Bangladesh team arrive in NZ
Friday, 14 December 2007

For the Bangladesh team the first impression of New Zealand has been one of pleasant surprise. Arriving in December with the mind playing all over the prospects of one chilly Kiwi tour it doesn't hurt when you see glorious sunshine and temperature hovering around the 20-degree mark.

Bangladesh team arrive in NZ
Bangladesh captain Mohammad Ashraful (L) taking questions from the local media
Bangladesh team arrive in NZ
Ashraful with local media
For the Bangladesh team the first impression of New Zealand has been one of pleasant surprise. Arriving in December with the mind playing all over the prospects of one chilly Kiwi tour it doesn't hurt when you see glorious sunshine and temperature hovering around the 20-degree mark.

The Tigers touched down at the Auckland International Airport around 1pm local time (6am Bangladesh Standard Time) following a 12-hour flight from Bangkok and add to that the four and a half hours journeying to and transiting in the Thai capital and you get a marathon travel which only ended after another two hours spent on the bus to Hamilton.

Even during the best of times you cannot expect subcontinent-like cricket frenzy in New Zealand. In fact on landing it is hard to miss the 'Go All Blacks' graffiti on a hanger and instantly you get the message that you are in rugby territory. But the team was warmly received by New Zealand Cricket officials at the airport and after the immigration and customs formalities had been cleared the Tigers found 20-odd expatriate Bangladeshis and an equal number of local print and electronic media representatives eagerly waiting for them outside the arrival gate.

“This is a team with potential. It is still early days for me but this side has made it to the super eights in two World Cups in 2007 so definitely we can expect ourselves to push New Zealand in the one-day series and we'll try to play as well as we can in the Test series,” said coach Jamie Siddons when asked what he expected out of this tour.

“We have to get used to the conditions here quickly because otherwise we will struggle. I know New Zealand are not in great form at the moment but still they are a tough team at home and we need to be at hundred percent by the time the series starts. We will get three practice matches and plenty of opportunity to train so I think we will be well prepared.”

"Our bowling attack is good and I believe if we can post a total in the range of 230-240 then we have a genuine chance of defending that score," said captain Mohammad Ashraful who is one of the four survivors, the others being his deputy Mashrafe Mortaza, Javed Omer Belim and Tushar Imran, from the last tour here in 2001-02.

Mortaza said that a lot has changed since.

“In 2001 we were not experienced but this a much better-equipped side. We have youngsters who have tasted success and more young players are coming in with the determination of proving themselves. We all are fresh from playing domestic first class matches and everyone is raring to go. Bangladesh cricket have come a long way since our last visit and hopefully we can show that on this tour.”

“Our goal is to try and perform to our potential in the ODI series because that is where we have had most success and to take the Test matches to five days and be competitive over those five days.”

The team bus took the Tigers to Hamilton to their Novotel Tainui Hotel, their address for the next ten days, past breathtaking greenery, lovely single storey houses and livestock grazing the valleys on both sides of the road like you find in picture books. Adding to the atmosphere was the absence of a siren blowing police or security escort which just would not have fitted with the level of tranquility around.

There was just enough time for the players to get their luggage organised and get into training gear before they headed to Seddon Park which is a 10-minute walk from the hotel. On the way complete strangers came and said hello, inquired about who they were and wished them success.

There was an hour's session at the lush carpet-like turf of Seddon Park under fitness trainer Shane McDermott where the picket fences and green mounds are a throwback to the classical cricket ambience of the past. The players did some stretching and exercises and had a short football game to get rid of the jet lag. Tomorrow serious practice starts with nets scheduled at the same venue in the morning.

The Bangladesh team will play two practice matches against Northern Districts at Seddon Park on December 16 and 18 before returning to the ground on December 23 for a Twenty20 international against the Black Caps in aid of the Cyclone Sidr victims. The practice matches are due to start at 12pm and that's not a surprise as the sun usually sets around 8pm at this time of the year.

source: http://www.thedailystar.net/story.php?nid=15386

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