‘Both teams are, in these conditions, closely matched’, says Brendon McCullum

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“We have a real fight on our hands to get the result that we want”

New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum has admitted that his side and Bangladesh are “closely matched” after the first Test between the two nations in Chittagong ended as a draw.

McCullum expects Bangladesh to put up a tough fight in the second Test in Mirpur, but he still believes the Black Caps should walk away with a 1-0 series win since they have beaten Bangladesh in eight of their last ten Test meetings.

“We have a decent amount of respect for Bangladesh,” McCullum said. “They are a tough opposition and we saw that in the last match. It was a very good match with both teams showing their skills and didn’t, at any stage, relent.

“We said at the outset that we should be winning the series, and the expectation is on us to do so, and that hasn’t changed. It didn’t surprise me how close the last game went. Both teams are, in these conditions, closely matched. We have a real fight on our hands to get the result that we want.”

It is highly likely that New Zealand will insert Neil Wagner into the team for the second Test in an attempt to bolster up their pace attack.

“We have a number of options which is good from the point of view of the squad,” McCullum said. “We have to make sure we are completely comfortable with the way we go forward from here. It is something we need to look out and work out the balance of our team. If we do include the extra seamer it will be in place of one of the spinners.”

McCullum noted that the pitch in Mirpur should be very similar to that in Chittagong, which means that bowlers will have to work their socks off for every wicket.

“It should be similar to Chittagong where there is not much pace and bounce,” McCullum said. “I think that’s the challenge of playing in Bangladesh. It is a myth that it spins in Bangladesh. I think Sri Lanka and India offer a lot more for the spinners. In Bangladesh it tends to skid and you have seen it in the modes of dismissal in the last game. Their spinners bowled very well and they will ask us a lot of questions in the next five days.”

It is also highly unlikely that New Zealand will make any changes to their batting line-up on the eve of the second Test.

“I don’t think they [top order] need to bat at a higher tempo,” McCullum added. “They did a good job. We have talked about batting four sessions in the first innings and around three in the second innings. I thought our batting was faultless in the first Test.”

McCullum also hinted that everyone in the side has their “own plans” on how to deal with Bangladesh spinner Sohag Gazi, who, during the first Test, became the first cricketer in history to score a century and take a hat-trick in a Test match.

“Everyone will have their own plans against him,” McCullum said. “He bowled exceptionally well in the last Test. When we looked to dictate terms, he got the wickets.

“Prior to that, I thought we played him pretty well. He had a very good game and thoroughly deserves the accolade that has followed. If we have to do well, he is one of the guys we have to overcome.”

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