Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza preferred driving from Auckland to Napier than flying.
Given a choice between a one-hour flight or six-hour drive from Auckland to Napier, nervous Bangladeshi cricketers Mashrafe Mortaza and Tamim Iqbal chose the long road.
Both have been on endless tours of New Zealand, and Tamim even had a stint with the Wellington Firebirds, but it seems the smaller planes on the regional routes still leave them jumpy.
“Only a couple of players. One player we’ve got he’s not particularly happy with the smaller planes. You get that in all touring teams, there’s an odd player that doesn’t like the flights,” said coach Steve Rhodes, reluctant to directly identify them.
Bangladesh’s Daily Star reported team captain Mashrafe and Tamim, the last two players to join the tour squad ahead of Wednesday’s first ODI, arrived in Napier late on Monday. Both missed the side’s only warmup match, a two-wicket defeat to a New Zealand XI in Christchurch on Sunday.
Tamim told the Daily Star of his fear of flying in small aircraft, which might disrupt Thursday’s trip to Christchurch for Saturday’s second ODI, before they head to Dunedin for game three next week.
The team’s planned stopover in windy Wellington wasn’t filling Tamim with much excitement.
”I am not going to change flights [in Wellington]. I would much rather make the journey by road or take a direct flight,” Tamim told the Daily Star.
Reporter Mazhar Uddin went on to observe: “The size of the aircraft did not much bother two other members of the side, Rubel Hossain and Mohammad Saifuddin, who reached Christchurch yesterday and changed flights in Wellington before finally arriving in Napier.”
Still it was a buoyant touring side who took to Nelson Park for training on Tuesday under former England gloveman Rhodes, bowling coach Courtney Walsh and batting coach Neil McKenzie.
They’d already suffered a blow with star allrounder Shakib Al Hasan was ruled out of the ODI series with a broken finger suffered in the Bangladesh Premier League, while bowler Taskin Ahmed was also an injury casualty of that tournament.
“It’s a really big task but our captain Mashrafe said it doesn’t mean we can’t win. We’ve played some excellent cricket in one-day internationals recently and beaten West Indies a couple of times. We should take a lot of heart from that,” Rhodes said.
“Coming out here against New Zealand we know it’ll be very difficult, we’re very realistic but we quite like being underdogs. We can surprise a few people.”
Left-arm seamer Mustafizur Rahman is their gun, ranked among the top ODI bowlers in world cricket. And they have happy memories against New Zealand, notably their last ODI meeting at the 2017 Champions Trophy when they shocked the Black Caps in Cardiff and bounced them out of the tournament.
The bulk of that side, including key batsman Mahmudullah who teamed up with Shakib for the matchwinning partnership, return for this series. Bangladesh are yet to win in 10 ODIs against the Black Caps in New Zealand.
“A lot of them bring back that memory and I’m sure the New Zealanders do too. That’s probably an inspiration for them as well. The one thing about the squad is it’s vastly experienced now, a lot of ODI caps under their belts. That’s a good thing coming here.”