The series was decided by two defining bowling performances from the Bangladesh side as Nasum Ahmed and Mustafizur Rahman powered the hosts to an unassailable 3-1 lead against New Zealand in the fourth T20I after Bangladesh went down by 52 runs in the third. Expect bowlers to have a say in the result of the fifth T20I, too.
Though the fifth T20I on Friday in Dhaka is a dead rubber, Bangladesh have a chance to try out a few players from their 15-member T20 World Cup squad that was announced on Wednesday. So far, they have played with an unchanged XI in all four matches but, for the final T20I, Shakib Al Hasan, Nasum Ahmed, Mustafizur and Mohammad Saifuddin are likely to be rested. Shakib Al Hasan and Mohammad Saifuddin, meanwhile, are nursing finger injuries.
Soumya Sarkar, one of the four players in the squad for this series who is yet to get a game, suffered a shoulder injury during training on Wednesday. Shamim Hossain, Taskin Ahmed, and Shoriful Islam are the some of the players who might get an opportunity while batters like Mohammad Naim, Liton Das, and Mushfiqur Rahim continue trying to find form. Afif Hossain and Nurul Hasan may also be included in the XI.
New Zealand, for their part, will be keen to carry some confidence into their next assignment, in Pakistan, where they will play three ODIs and five T20Is. Even though the visitors fought back in the third game after they lost the first two T20Is, Tom Latham’s men will need an improved performance from their top and middle orders to finish on a high. Finn Allen, Latham and Henry Nicholls were dismissed cheaply in the previous match, which helped Bangladesh clinch the series.
Ajaz Patel was the lone warrior with the ball in the fourth T20I after Cole McConchie had a forgettable day in the must-win fixture. The New Zealand fast bowlers once again failed to come together with a good show.
(last five completed matches)
New Zealand LWLLW
In the spotlight
Bangladesh head coach Russell Domingo called Mahedi Hasan a “free player,” indicating that he can be used in both batting and bowling at any time, in any position. Mahedi has so far responded moderately to the role of a floater, bowling well in most cases, but hasn’t stepped up to his potential when it comes to batting. His numbers in international cricket don’t quite match the promise of his domestic performances, but the coach seems to believe in him.
Will Young will be the one to watch out for from the New Zealand camp, having scored almost half of the runs – 109 in four matches – for the visitors in this series. Young has improved with every game in Dhaka, where his drives and sweeps have been exceptional, giving glimpses of a potentially long career ahead.
Even if Shakib, Saifuddin, Mustafizur and Nasum do not play, Bangladesh still have the bench strength to test New Zealand.
Bangladesh (probable): 1 Mohammad Naim, 2 Liton Das, 3 Soumya Sarkar, 4 Mushfiqur Rahim, 5 Mahmudullah (capt), 6 Afif Hossain, 7 Nurul Hasan (wk), 8 Shamim Hossain, 9 Shoriful Islam, 10 Taskin Ahmed, 11 Aminul Islam.
If Tom Blundell’s strained left quadriceps prevent him from playing on Friday, New Zealand have to pick an extra fast bowler. Only Matt Henry is yet to play a match from their touring squad.
New Zealand (probable): 1 Rachin Ravindra, 2 Finn Allen, 3 Tom Latham (capt & wk), 4 Will Young, 5 Colin de Grandhomme, 6 Henry Nicholls, 7 Tom Blundell, 8 Cole McConchie, 9 Ajaz Patel, 10 Hamish Bennett, 11 Blair Tickner.
Pitch and conditions
Teams batting first have averaged 105 during this T20I series, and one can expect the fifth and final match to be a low-scoring affair as well. Rain is forecast on Friday. Through this series, though, it has rained in Dhaka at all times except when the teams have been on the field.
Stats and trivia
- The combined batting average in this series is 14.96, just a shade higher than the 14.73 from the Bangladesh-Australia series last month. These are the two lowest batting averages in T20I series involving three or more matches between Full Member nations.
- The left-arm spinners from both sides have taken 24 wickets at an average of 10.37 in this series. Offspinners have taken 12 wickets at 16.75, while the lone left-arm quick, Mustafizur, has taken eight wickets at an average of 11.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84