The New Zealand selectors asking Tom to lead the team and picking no players from their World T20 squad is a testament to their mindset coming into the series.
But the circumstances are quite different to those of the Tigers, who are gearing up with their best possible line up, with the exception of ODI skipper Tamim Iqbal, as they prepare for the approaching World T20.
Mahmudullah’s men are keen on continuing their purple patch after triumphs over Zimbabwe at Harare and at home against Australia, which marked a maiden series win over their heavyweight opponents.
Bangladesh are yet to announce their squad for the showcase event, to be co-hosted by Oman and the United Arab Emirates in October. The selectors plan to announce the final squad for the World T20 midway into the series.
Buoyant after the 4-1 win over the Aussies, the Tigers can further bolster their confidence with a strong show against the Kiwis, and that is exactly what the team and management are out to do.
The first of the five matches will begin at 4pm on Wednesday at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Mirpur
Before Australia’s recent visit, the hosts had never even won a T20 game against the Aussies, and similarly, the Tigers have failed to register a win against the Kiwis in 10 encounters.
For Mahmudullah, home advantage holds the key if plans can be executed properly.
“We’ve never been able to beat New Zealand in T20s. This is a great opportunity for us. We’re a very good team at home grounds, and we’ve the desire to keep proving that. I hope the boys are prepared for that.”
“In T20s, you can consider yourselves favourites, but if you become overconfident, it can work against you. Such is this format of the game. Having the drive to play well in a condition on a particular day taking the track into account is essential.”
The decision to play two wicketkeeper-batsmen, Mushfiqur Rahim and Nurul Hasan, has triggered much discussion in the days leading up to the series.
Coach Russell Domingo’s decision to split the job behind the wickets between Mushfiqur and Nurul in different matches have hogged the headlines.
“There’s no problem, it’s all good,” Mahmudullah said on the matter with a grin on his face.
He was keen on focusing on the on-field preparations and warned his teammates about how hard the New Zealand players have trained.
“Whatever team they brought in is good. The Kiwis are always disciplined in terms of putting plans to action. We’ve to play our cricket in an organised manner to do well against them.”
Since arriving in Bangladesh, New Zealand cricketers have maintained that they trained well to take Bangladesh on. They’ve set up two training camps to practice on tracks similar to those they will play on against the Tigers.
Their management is sorting Bangladesh’s strengths and weaknesses with in-depth analysis.
Despite a lack of players from their main team, the selectors have assembled the squad after much deliberations. Tom and Henry Nichols are not regulars in T20s but are very capable players of spin.
The batting line-up includes the likes of Tom Bundle and Will Young who are both good at adapting to match situations. The squad also has two spin bowling allrounders in Rachin Ravindra and Cole McConchie to give them an edge on both ends.
“It is pretty easy to motivate yourself when playing for the country. I personally haven’t had a lot of opportunities in T20s, so it is exciting. Even for the other guys. Most of the guys have played T20s for New Zealand but probably not as much as they would like to,” Tom said.
“We have to enjoy ourselves out there, and stick to a brand of cricket that we believe can be successful in these conditions. Our goal is to win the series.”
Asked about nerves ahead of the series, he said, ““Most of the guys have experience at this level before. A couple of guys haven’t been in the squad before, it is exciting for them to get in the group and try to keep things as relaxed as possible.
“We had really good training over the past five days. We will finish off our final preparations today. We have been well looked after in Bangladesh. There has been a good vibe around the group.
“The guys are looking forward to getting stuck in the cricket. We have had two camps so from a preparation point of view, it has been a long time. Everyone is pretty excited to get going tomorrow.”
Tom was well aware of the threat posed by Bangladesh spinners, the variation of Mustafizur Rahman and the overall condition.
“We have to play on a surface that will be a lot more challenging than what we expect. We have acclimatised to the conditions here in the last five days. We have five games here, so wickets will be used two or three times. We have to adapt to each surface in each game.
“Mustafizur at the top of the innings is renowned for his slower balls. We saw how he bowled against Australia. The spinners at the top and through the middle, will present the challenges.
“Guys have been working really hard for the last five days to come up with plans best to negate them. We are looking forward to facing them tomorrow.”