New Zealand eye clean sweep in Bangladesh series

Published: Wednesday, October 8, 2008, 15:24 [IST]
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New Zealand are aiming for a clean sweep against Bangladesh when their three-match one-day series starts here Thursday, but captain Daniel Vettori admits his team still need to play their best to win.

If the Black Caps blank their opponents, they would regain the number two spot in the ICC (International Cricket Council) one-day rankings that they briefly held in January 2005.

Regaining the second place spot would mean jumping from their current fourth position and displacing South Africa.

"Obviously winning the one-day series 3-0 would make us number two in the world and that would be very special but we are not going to underestimate Bangladesh who are formidable in their own country," said Vettori.

Bangladesh face a major challenge in the series after 14 frontline players deserted the national team to join the rebel Indian Cricket League (ICL).

Among those who defected were all-rounders Aftab Ahmed and Alok Kapali, along with established batsmen Shahriar Nafees and Nazimuddin -- destablising a batting order already under pressure to deliver.

Vettori said that Bangladesh still had players who could mount a resistance and that of all the missing players, only Ahmed's absence would really be felt.

"I understand the only player missing (after the ICL exodus) is Ahmed. That's obviously a loss but the rest of the team remains pretty much what we faced in New Zealand," when his team won 3-0 in December last year, he said.

"Their results may not be great but if you look at the Bangladesh players from an individual level they have got some guys who have performed well at the world stage so we need to be at our best," he added.

Bangladesh were blanked 3-0 by Australia in their last series in September, mainly due to poor batting, but the team's Australian coach Jamie Siddons said he hoped his side had recovered from the shock.

"I think in Australia we were pretty bad and in the Asia Cup (June-July) pretty good. Obviously there was a little bit of a hiccup with the ICL players leaving but the new players are keen to do well in this series," said Siddons, who took over last year.

Bangladesh announced 12 for the match, leaving out Mehrab Hossain and Imrul Kayes from the squad of 14.

The second match is in Dhaka on Saturday and the third in Chittagong on Tuesday.

Squads (from):

Bangladesh: Mohammad Ashraful (capt), Tamim Iqbal, Zunaed Siddique, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Mashrafe Mortaza, Abdur Razzak, Shahadat Hossain, Syed Rasel, Mahmud Ullah Riyad, Naeem Islam, Mahbubul Alam

New Zealand: Daniel Vettori (captain), Grant Elliott, Daniel Flynn, Gareth Hopkins, Jamie How, Michael Mason, Brendon McCullum, Kyle Mills, Jacob Oram, Jeetan Patel, Jesse Ryder, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Scott Styris, Mark Gillespie

Umpires: Daryl Harper (AUS) and Nadir Shah (BAN)

TV umpire: Akhtaruddin

Match referee: Javagal Srinath (IND)

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