When Bangladesh arrived in New Zealand, they were always expected to struggle. And yet, if at all they had any chances of making the slightest of impressions, it was in the shorter formats. They had whitewashed New Zealand at home some years back. But, that was a completely different scenario in every sense. Bangladesh did not carry any advantage of the past. And, their lack of adaptability saw them being blanked by the Kiwis in both the T20s as well as the ODIs. The big danger for Bangladesh though is that their biggest test is yet to begin, and they have already been demoralised. They could, in all probability, be in for a tougher time in the longer version of the game.
Given the poor opposition and the home advantage, it is difficult to see New Zealand ending with anything less than a win at Wellington unless of course weather intervenes. The pitch is expected to offer assistance to the seamer, and the Kiwis have an extremely potent attack given the conditions. Trent Boult and Neil Wagner will be the key for New Zealand at the top. The latter could especially trouble the Bangladesh batsmen with his short stuff. But, there is also Colin de Grandhomme, who can move the ball, and made a sensational debut against Pakistan. There is Matt Henry as back up as well, so New Zealand have little to worry in the bowling department.
Given the conditions, their batting is also equally impressive. Martin Guptill may have been dumped from Tests, but it had proved to be a blessing in disguise, as Jeet Raval has come in and tasted success instantly. The Kiwis will be hopeful of him building on the great start he has had to his Test career. The other opener Tom Latham is now a proven performer having been New Zealand's most consistent batsman on the tour of India, and doing well against Pakistan at home at well. Even in the ODIs against Bangladesh, he got a hundred. Skipper Kane Williamson will be expected to what he does best, while the match will also mark the return of Ross Taylor from his eye surgery.
One of the major drawbacks for Bangladesh going into the Test would be the inexperience in their bowling attack. The most experienced one they have in the side is Rubel Hussain, who has featured in as many as 23 Test matches. With Mustafizur Rahman, their best bowler, unavailable for the first Test, Taskin Ahmed is the other pace option in the team. He has struggled a bit with his bowling action being brought into question in recent past, and hasn't been the same bowler since. Even otherwise, he seems more of a limited overs specialist. Subhasis Roy, meanwhile, is expected to make his debut at Wellington.
One of the big reasons while Bangladesh failed to compete in the shorter formats was because their two most experienced players couldn't raise their game. Tamim Iqbal could not get the desired runs. And, while Shakib Al Hasan wasn't expected to get too many wickets, he should have done better with the bat. Another experienced batsman, Mushfiqur Rahim, would be back from injury, so that is a big positive for Bangladesh. Further, in Mominul Haque, they have a player who seems to possess the ability to succeed despite the challenging conditions. Mahmudullah and Sabbir Rahman are talented, but they will be tested for sure. Unfortunately, even if Bangladesh get runs on the board, it is difficult to see them claiming 20 wickets with the ball.
--By A Cricket Analyst