As mock exams go in the world of international cricket, just exactly where does the Black Caps fit into the scheme of things for the impending limited-overs ICC World Cup in England from May to July?

After the predictably sedate eight-wicket victory over Bangladesh in the opening one-day international at McLean Park, Napier, tonight some will argue such mundane but cathartic exercises are necessary in sharpening the pencil, as it were, during dress rehearsals.

The 4-1 flogging at the hands of India here in the preceding ANZ ODI series in the country perhaps demands a mental prescription that Bangladesh offer.

But the prudent will argue exorcising the demons requires more than a game of hammering in positives and driving out negatives in attempting to instil a sense of self-belief for when the time is nigh to face the big dogs in England.


Just as the three-match Twenty20 affair against India, which the New Zealanders clinched 2-1, was a meaningless exercise so is going through the motions with the Banga Boys in the remaining two ODIs.

That, of course, doesn't mean the tourists are about to lose their aura as giant-killers any time soon - as the Black caps will attest to the deep cut Bangladesh had inflicted on them in Cardiff, Wales, before they were unceremoniously bundled out of the ICC Champions in June 2017.

The lead in the Gary Stead-grafted pencils has a solid pigment core packing enough graphite powder, mixed with a clay binder, to leave distinctive charcoal marks on the Bangladeshis.

Having won the toss and electing to bat, Bangladesh skipper Masrafee Bin Mortaza's men scrambled to 233 - clawing their way back from 94-6 - before they were skittled on a wicket that made it painfully obvious batsmen would have to get themselves out with irrational shots rather than break out into cold sweats on a balmy Hawke's Bay day in trying to get themselves in.

The bumper crowd that had packed out McLean Park in the India opener was conspicuous in its absence on a cracker day, understandably, against a side who had succumbed to their 11th defeat on New Zealand soil.

Even the weather gods had granted leniency in ensuring the arc of the blazing sun, notorious for blinding batsmen and fielders facing the Chapman Stand, was lower than normal although century maker Martin Guptill said it did bother him.

"I just sort of batted through it. I have batted that time before but you can just push on through it," said Guptill, accepting it was playable and it did help that they were batting for time and not facing someone of the Lockie Ferguson ilk.

Damningly the tourists, despite posting a record eight-wicket partnership of 84 runs between Mohammad Mithun and Mohammad Saifuddin against all opposition, were seven balls shy of completing their allotted 50 overs.


But, as Stead had declared in his pre-match interview, the series was more about what the Black Caps intended to do after the India brainstorming session than, seemingly, any threats Bangladesh were going to pose - world-class Shakib Al Hasan or not.

But it's difficult to not look past any NCEA-type internal exams because any glossing over will not detract from the external litmus tests that await in England.

In that respect, opener Guptill's unbeaten 117 to post his 15th ODI ton is commendable but certainly not remarkable, by any stretch of the imagination. It's a doodle in the realm of pencil sketches - not exactly oil-on-canvas material.

The 32-year-old took 103 deliveries, including eight boundaries and four sixes, for his milestone in helping eclipse a modest target on a ground where even India women felt they were capable of eking out 300 runs.

It's high fives and a group hug as new-ball merchant Matt Henry claims a Bangladesh wicket at McLean Park, Napier, today. Photo/Photosport
It's high fives and a group hug as new-ball merchant Matt Henry claims a Bangladesh wicket at McLean Park, Napier, today. Photo/Photosport

Again, that isn't to rob the sheen of Trent Boult and his ball-shining gang of the brilliant effort in restricting the tourists to a below-par total.

Guptill, who received a bottle of champagne from wife and TV presenter Laura McGoldrick in the post-match ritual, was returning from a back injury after bowing against India on a malnourished diet of 5, 15, 13 and 14 although that lean patch goes back another two games.

Just as he had scored 138 runs against the touring Sri Lankans here last month, he was not exposed to bowlers of the mould of Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar against the Bangladesh attack today.

Guptill, who had done his hot/cold session and was looking forward to some sleep, expected his back to be a little stiff tomorrow after 192 minutes on a "low/slow" wicket.

Emphasising what had happened in Wellington was a "freak injury", he said it was always satisfying to help the Black Caps cross the line but what came through resoundingly was a game of patience, which was in contradiction of "the natural game" he had alluded to, from ball one, that the Black Caps wish to employ.

"It was set by the bowlers who set the tone, at the end of the day, to make sure Bangladesh weren't going to get away from us."

Boult claimed 3-40 and Matt Henry 2-48 although the latter had hobbled back to his run up after his first delivery. Guptill wasn't privy to whether Henry had done himself any serious harm after bowling through the pain with gritty resolve.

The field, he said, was sharp and the 103-run partnership he had forged with promoted opener Henry Nicholls (53 runs) were pivotal in the collective appraisal.

"We obviously pushed through a tough period because it wasn't easy to bat out there today with the sun coming down as well [but] we were able to get through to make sure we were able to set the platform so it got a lot easier for us towards the end."

Guptill gave a tick to his partnership with Nicholls but also said he equally enjoyed opening with Colin de Grandhomme and had no qualms opening with either.

"Cricket's a funny game and it might not just work in the next game so you never know."

Bin Mortaza agreed up to 300 runs were in the offing, lamenting the top-order batsmen's inability to muster runs and not completing their overs.

"If we had scored 290 or 300 it would have been a different match," he said of a reply these days that ignores the fact that oppositions also change their approach and mindset to chasing down a bigger target.

He and Tamin Iqbal Khan, with the phobia of taking "small" domestic aircraft in New Zealand, have opted to travel to Christchurch tomorrow in a direct flight for the second ODI on Saturday.

Bangladesh scribes said Bin Mortaza and Khan, who had had a nerve-wracking experience at the capital airport in 2008, had opted to pay their own way rather than take the pre-booked flights, via Wellington, that New Zealand Cricket had organised.

The pair had driven to Napier as well.

Despite Bangladesh coach Steve Rhodes' forecast, the tourists will have to do a lot more before the Kane Williamson-captained Kiwis can start taking stock of their lot.