New Zealand arrived in Bangladesh intent on sweeping to second place in cricket’s one-day world rankings.
But a second-rate performance on Thursday at the Sher-e Bangla National Stadium now sees them fighting to avoid the added ignominy of becoming the first major nation to lose a series to the sub-continent’s minnow.
Bangladesh’s savvy seven-wicket win in Mirpur last night — a historic first after 11 heavy ODI defeats against the New Zealanders — raises the prospect of a series win to surpass their previous successes against Kenya, Zimbabwe and Ireland.
After being expected to brush the Bangladeshis aside with ease, New Zealand find themselves needing to win at the same venue tomorrow (4pm NZT) to avoid more humiliation by forcing a decider in Chittagong on Tuesday.
Bangladesh efficiently added New Zealand to their list of international scalps — England and the West Indies are the only countries they haven’t beaten at one-day international level since they joined the senior ranks in 1998.
New Zealand were not helped by Mohammad Ashraful winning the toss and wisely bowling first in damp and overcast conditions — but the top order were also the architects of their own demise on a two-paced wicket.
Only top scorer Jacob Oram and Daniel Vettori got to grips with the conditions after opener Jesse Ryder’s run-a-ball 35, though by the time the allrounder and skipper were united New Zealand had slumped to 79 for six in the 21st over.
Oram and Vettori added 70 for the seventh wicket but New Zealand’s 201 for nine always looked light if Bangladesh measured their response.
Often guilty of suffering stage fright, Bangladesh cruised to victory with 27 balls remaining thanks to Junaid Siddique’s career-best 85 — a score that eclipsed his previous aggregate of 62 runs from eight ODI innings.
Ashraful also kept his head to delight the home crowd with an unbeaten 60 off 56 deliveries, his 15th ODI half century.
While New Zealand’s batting was inadequate, the three-month lay-off following their tour of England also impacted on the bowling.
The seamers were tidy without being threatening while Vettori had 48 picked off nine wicketless overs.
The inquest started soon after the shocked New Zealanders returned to their dressing room, though the reasons were already evident.
“We were 10 per cent off everything,” said Oram, who crafted a patient 57 off 89 balls.
“Bangladesh played very well and didn’t allow us to play anywhere near to how we can, they fully deserved their victory,” he told Radio Sport.
“You have to give them credit, in a way it was a rude awakening for us.
“If we don’t rock up (tomorrow) with our A game we’ll lose the series.”
The captain had been criticised for both his leadership and below-par batting form on the recent tour of Australia but gave another glimpse of his potential, particularly when handling Vettori.
When the spinner brought himself on in the third powerplay — taken by Bangladesh under the new rules — in the 39th over, Ashraful promptly pulled him for a four past square leg and then stepped out for a six over long-on.
New Zealand name their 12-man squad shortly before tomorrow’s toss, with second spinner Jeetan Patel considered a candidate to play after being omitted yesterday.