Last January, after a maiden test loss to Bangladesh, the Black Caps headed for the green-seaming comforts of Hagley Oval and responded with a three-day thumping.
Next week, following a second defeat by the Asian nation in which they lost 18 of 20 wickets to spin, New Zealand must save the series at a traditional tweakers paradise in Dhaka.
Such a turnaround allows little time for adjustments from batters who couldn’t cope with Taijul Islam. The player of the match in a 150-run dispatching will likely be counting the hours before he can build on the 10 scalps he collected in Sylhet.
Yet the Black Caps can make adjustments to their selection, with one World Cup hero in particular surely forcing his way into the XI.
Rachin Ravindra was denied the chance this week to add to his three test caps, the last of which incidentally came when Bangladesh managed their breakthrough win in Mount Maunganui. Glenn Phillips was instead preferred and responded with a first-innings return of 4-53 that helped his side earn parity halfway through the match.
But given the tourists’ batters were subsequently blown away in the second innings, Ravindra’s inclusion must appeal in boosting that element of their game.
The 24-year-old’s left-arm orthodox is certainly a bonus; the Black Caps will likely need to generate all the spin they can at Shere Bangla National Stadium. More pertinently, though, it would be imprudent to ignore the bat with which Ravindra racked up three centuries at the ODI World Cup in India.
A straight swap with Phillips is simple if slightly unfair. In addition to his five wickets, the 54 runs he produced at No 7 made the burgeoning allrounder New Zealand’s fourth-highest scorer.
Another option would be to omit Henry Nicholls while acknowledging the No 4 — who in March scored an unbeaten double-century against Sri Lanka — remained incumbent in friendlier home conditions.
Nicholls was not alone with two first-test failures. But the opening combination of Tom Latham and Devon Conway is etched in pen, while Tom Blundell’s gloves are glued on.
The other, bolder choice to inject Ravindra would see the Black Caps to follow their hosts’ example and play a solitary seamer. Considering Kyle Jamieson was more threatening in Sylhet than Tim Southee, however, that would lead to an uncomfortable conversation.
The skipper defended his team’s first-test selection, pointing to the recent subcontinental exploits of frontline spin duo Ajaz Patel and Ish Sodhi.
“You look at the bowling group and KJ’s been a phenomenal performer for us, Ish Sodhi was man of the series in the last series he played (in Pakistan), and Ajaz has been a great bowler for us in this part of the world as well,” Southee said.
“You look at the conditions and you look at the squad you’ve got and you pick your best XI.”
The conditions in the Bangladeshi capital, where the second test at Mirpur starts on Wednesday, will necessitate the retention of Patel and Sodhi, who combined for nine wickets in the first test.
That much is clear when assessing what happened during the West Indies’ visit in 2018. Bangladesh’s innings-and-184-run triumph is their only victory over a major nation superior to what they managed this week against the Black Caps, and it was delivered by 12 wickets for Mehidy Hasan Miraz along with three for Taijul.
“Our next challenge is to try and be better than we were in the last five days,” Southee said. “We know it’s a challenging place to play cricket and I think we’ve just got to be better for longer in all areas of the game.”