It was a miracle, in the least, that the Bangladesh team sans Shakib Al Hasan dominated New Zealand for the better part of the 5 days at Bay Oval and thrashed the hosts, who were without their talisman batsman and captain, Kane Williamson, by 8 wickets.
This was Bangladesh’s first-ever victory in any format on New Zealand soil against New Zealand after 32 failed attempts. This loss also broke New Zealand’s 17-Test undefeated streak at home.
This shock and unforeseen home defeat has now put the reigning World Test Champions’ campaign in a bit of a pickle. The 2021-23 WTC cycle hasn’t started on a favourable note for the Black Caps: they marginally escaped with a draw in the first Test against India in Kanpur before losing the second in Mumbai, before losing to Bangladesh.
New Zealand’s strong position in the inaugural WTC table was because of their clean sweep in 6 home Tests. However, now, with the loss in Mount Maunganui, they are pushed to the 7th position in the WTC table for this cycle, ahead of only England and South Africa.
After the second Test against Bangladesh, their next series in this cycle are against South Africa and Sri Lanka at home, and England and Pakistan away.
While the Kiwis may emerge trumps over Bangladesh in the second Test and roll over Sri Lanka, the matches versus South Africa, England, and Pakistan will require them to produce much better performances than they have done in their last three Tests.
South Africa have a pace-bowling attack to match that of New Zealand; Pakistan have won three of their last 4 Tests, and it’s always a challenging task to take on England in England, even though Joe Root’s team will be coming off an embarrassing Ashes loss.
For the unversed, in the WTC 2021-2023, teams will get 12 points for a win, 4 for a draw and 6 for a tie. Points percentage system (PCT) will be used to determine the leaderboard because of the varied number of matches in the series of all teams.
Now, if New Zealand win all of their remaining Tests in this cycle, that will give them 79.5 PCT, which is likely to see them finish in the top two while a single loss will see them reach a maximum of 71.8 PCT. However, two draws and eight wins will see them reach 69.2 PCT – this is the exact figure that wasn’t enough for Australia to reach the final in the inaugural cycle.
But, the other thing to keep in mind is that favourites India have also dropped points in each of their last two series – against England and New Zealand – and continue to grind in South Africa and they will also host Australia, another top contender.
So, despite the fact that New Zealand have had a disappointing start to their title defence, they remain in the hunt for a spot in the final. But surely they will be have to pull up their socks.