New Zealand are about to end their all-win home summer that has stretched seven series. They have hosted 21 international matches, the most by any country since the Covid-19 pandemic. It is regarded as an administrative success, particularly given their country’s stringent quarantine protocols. The only dampener is likely to be the rain in the forecast in Auckland for the season finale, the third T20I against Bangladesh.
A major strength for New Zealand has been their newcomers turning in superb contributions even after they have been put under pressure. In the second T20I in Napier, it was Glenn Phillips whose unbeaten half-century got them out of trouble and into a total that proved too much for Bangladesh amid confusion over the DLS-determined target. Daryl Mitchell helped Phillips in an unbroken 62-run sixth-wicket stand that came off just 27 balls.
In the first match, it was Devon Conway and debutant Will Young who got them into a position of strength. New Zealand will also be pleased with how Ish Sodhi has continued his good form throughout the summer despite playing only T20Is. During the ongoing T20I series in particular, Tim Southee’s captaincy has also stood out.
Come the third and final T20I on Thursday, they wouldn’t mind Martin Guptill getting a big score as he has been in threatening form since the ODI series against Bangladesh with his quick starts. Finn Allen, too, would be eyeing a sizeable score having made just 17 across two innings so far in this series. There’s going to be an opportunity to see who among Adam Milne, Lockie Ferguson and Hamish Bennett get to pair up in Auckland.
Bangladesh have had a few positives during this tour but their players have been somewhat inconsistent. Nasum Ahmed bowled well in both T20Is, particularly opening the bowling, although he has only two wickets to show for so far. Soumya Sarkar’s half-century in the second T20I should help him get out of a trough.
Mohammad Naim has shown glimpses of his impressive strokeplay in both games, albeit without a big score. Afif Hossain made 45 in a losing cause in the first game, in Hamilton, while Shoriful bounced back with an economical spell in Napier after a disastrous debut in the series opener.
Mohammad Saifuddin has been expensive with the ball in both games, Liton Das has scored only 50 runs on this tour while Mohammad Mithun and Mahedi Hasan haven’t converted their promise from the ODI series.
(last five completed matches)
New Zealand WWWLL
In the spotlight
Glenn Phillips has been unbeaten in his last three international matches, with all three being pivotal to New Zealand wins. In the second T20I, his 58 came off 31 balls, his big-hitting prowess on show as much as his diligence in building partnerships during a tricky passage of play.
It’s hard to predict which Soumya Sarkar might turn up in Auckland. He averaged 9.5 on the tour until his quickfire 51 in Napier. It contained an array of special shots but his dismissal sparked a batting collapse. Perhaps getting back to form is important but for a batsman with 129 international matches under his belt getting the team to winning positions is his main job.
Only Todd Astle is yet to get a game in this series while the pace combination of Lockie Ferguson and Adam Milne may also come to fruition.
New Zealand (probable) 1 Finn Allen, 2 Martin Guptill, 3 Devon Conway (wk), 4 Will Young, 5 Glenn Phillips, 6 Mark Chapman, 7 Daryl Mitchell, 8 Tim Southee (capt), 9 Ish Sodhi, 10, Adam Milne, 11 Hamish Bennett
Bangladesh may not want to tweak the starting XI that to some degree tested New Zealand in the previous game unless Mushfiqur Rahim is fit.
Bangladesh (probable) 1 Liton Das (wk), 2 Mohammad Naim, 3 Soumya Sarkar, 4 Mohammad Mithun, 5 Mahmudullah (capt), 6 Afif Hossain, 7 Mahedi Hasan, 8 Mohammad Saifuddin, 9 Shoriful Islam, 10 Nasum Ahmed, 11 Taskin Ahmed
Pitch and conditions
The series-ender will be the first day-night T20I at the Eden Park in five years. Short boundaries and an expected flat pitch hint at a high-scoring game in the offing. There’s rain in the forecast, though.
Stats and trivia
- Martin Guptil’s 582 runs at Eden Park makes him the only player to score 500-plus T20I runs in a single venue.
- Mahmudullah is set to play his 55th consecutive T20I for Bangladesh, currently the fourth longest in the all-time list. Essentially, he hasn’t missed a T20I since November 2015.
“I have been ridden with injuries in the last three years, so I want to be injury-free, firstly. I am just going to try to keep my body in the park and play consistent cricket.”
New Zealand fast bowler Adam Milne on his return to international cricket after two years
“We haven’t done well in all three departments in one particular game. We have bowled well and batted well in separate matches. We need to bring it all together to win a game.”
Bangladesh batsman Soumya Sarkar on what the visiting side needs to do to finish the tour with a win
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84