Bangladesh no walk in the park - Fleming
After witnessing Bangladesh at close range for the first time since the cricket World Cup, Stephen Fleming has warned the upcoming one-day series will not necessarily be plain sailing for the Black Caps.
Bangladesh notched their first win on tour against a New Zealand XI on Seddon Park last night, a four-wicket win in a Twenty20 match designed to raise funds for the relief effort after Cyclone Sidr cut a swathe though the south of the country last month.
Determined to do well for such an important cause, Bangladesh also indicated the three-match one-day series, which starts in Auckland on Boxing Day, may not be as one sided as the teams' history suggests.
New Zealand are yet lose an official ODI against Bangladesh, having recorded eight successive wins – a relative rarity as the sub-continental minnows have made a habit of upsetting the sport's powerhouses.
Bangladesh stunned a lackadaisical Australia before the 2005 Ashes and pulled off two surprises at the World Cup in the West Indies nine months where they basically eliminated India before upsetting South Africa in the Super Eights stage.
New Zealand won their corresponding clash by nine wickets but former captain Fleming, who will watch the matches with interest while he prepares for the two test series, feared it could only be a matter of time before Bangladesh conjure up another historic victory.
"If we're tentative, they'll put up a fight," Fleming said after he captained the composite side – his last leadership role on New Zealand soil.
Fleming pinpointed the Bangladeshi's fearless approach to batting – a direct contrast to the Blacks Caps' current mind set – as a potential danger.
"They've got good strokemakers. There's not a lot of fear in some of their players and on their day they can come off – we've seen that in some of the upsets they've caused at World Cups. "
Bangladesh's positive approach could not be compromised by the loss of two early wickets as they sought to overhaul the NZ XI's 133 for seven with captain Mohammad Ashraful and Aftab Ahmed barely settling in before peppering the boundaries.
Both were ultimately run out for quickfire 20s but Shakib Al Hasan, Mehrab Hossain and Farhad Reza, who top scored with 31, got the tourists home with a comfortable three overs to spare.
"Their batting is probably almost the opposite of where our batting unit is," Fleming admitted.
"They seem full of confidence, and they don't really have a lot of fear. The consequence of them playing a bad shot and getting out doesn't seem to be there."
The reverse applies for New Zealand's current top order, with the quartet on display last night struggled to varying degrees.
Jamie How and Ross Taylor never got going, Peter Fulton made a ponderous three as he returns from knee surgery, though Styris made a lively 29.
Returning to the fold, Fleming sensed the anxieties prompted by the disastrous tours of South Africa and Australia.
"It feels very tentative with the batting unit – there's been a lot of focus on it, the performances haven't been great and with that comes a certain amount of tension," he said.
"Coming into the side, you could feel that (yesterday), the ways the guys played. We have to get away from that and try and stamp some authority with the willow in hand."
Fleming did not exempt himself from that criticism though in mitigation he only picked up a bat for the first time on Thursday to test the thumb he dislocated in South Africa last month.
He made 17 but was far from his typically fluent self at the crease.
"I felt like a fish out of water. It was all a bit foreign. I was pretty nervous after six weeks without playing so things are pretty green at the moment."
Fleming's last opportunity to bat competitively before the first test in Dunedin on January 4 is Wellington's State Shield opener against Central Districts at the Basin Reserve on Sunday.
New Zealand's 12-man squad reassembles to train at Eden Park this afternoon while Bangladesh are having a free day.
NEW ZEALAND XI
J How c Siddique b S Hossain 10
S Fleming c Sajidul b Ashraful 17
P Fulton c Javed b Islam 3
R Taylor c Reza b Ashraful 15
S Styris c M Hossain b Reza 29
J Marshall not out 33
G Hopkins c Tamim b S Hossain 12
T Southee b S Hossain 1
M Mason not out 3
Extras (1b, 5lb, 4w) 10
Total (for 7 wkts, 20 overs) 133
Fall: 12, 19, 47, 59, 98, 116, 120.
Bowling: S Hossain 4-0-15-3 (1w), S Islam 4-1-23-1 (2w), F Reza 4-0-26-1 (1w), M Ashraful 4-0-28-2, S Hasan 3-0-23-0, A Ahmed 1-0-12-0.
T Iqbal c Southee b Mason 0
Z Siddique c Taylor b Southee 4
A Ahmed run out 20
M Ashraful run out 20
S Hasan run out 22
M Hossain not out 22
F Reza c Hopkins b Styris 31
M Rahim not out 1
Extras (2lb, 12w) 14
Total (for 6 wkts, 17 overs) 134
Fall: 0, 18, 45, 52, 86, 133.
Bowling: M Mason 4-1-21-1 (2w), T Southee 3-0-31-1 (6w), I O'Brien 3-0-30-0 (3w), S Styris 4-0-28-1, J Patel 3-0-22-0 (1w).