Conway, Sodhi bully Bangladesh in T20I opener

Bangladesh continue to search for their moment in the New Zealand sun on this tour after the hosts bullied their way to a dominating 66-run victory in the first of the three-match T20I series. Inflicting pain upon them on this day were Devon Conway, who scored an unbeaten 52-ball 92, and Ish Sodhi, whose 4 for 28 was salt to the existing batting scars for the visitors.

A game of four debutants

Both sides named a pair of debutants each for this series opener and it was one from the Bangladesh camp that made the early impression on the day after Tim Southee elected to bat. Asked to bowl the first over, left-arm spinner Nasum Ahmed made an immediate impression by tying down Martin Guptill. When the strike turned over, his slider castled fellow debutant and new RCB recruit Finn Allen for a golden duck.

While the other Bangladesh debutant, left-arm seamer Shoriful Islam (in for Taskin Ahmed) found the step up to international cricket difficult, Nasum grew from strength to strength through his spell. He added the wicket of Guptill with a clever piece of deception, slowing down the pace and bowling wider to get Guptill to mistime one to long-off in his 100th T20I.

Who was the other debutant from New Zealand?

Will Young. And he walked in at the fall of Guptill’s wicket with New Zealand having added only 53 from 7 overs on a batting beauty. At this stage, Conway was batting on a run-a-ball 14. Young’s solidity allowed Conway to kick on. A 14-run over from Shoriful moved the hosts to 88/2 at the half-way mark. Young, though, wasn’t the passive partner by any means. He hit a six each over long-on and long-off and cashed in on a poor Saifuddin over to turbocharge New Zealand’s innings. He reached his half-century off 28 balls and finished on a 30-ball 53, an innings studded by four sixes .

Now about Conway…

Conway, coming off a ‘special’ ton in the final ODI, was near impossible to stop once he kicked on. A feature of his knock was his inane ability to hit gaps off seemingly good deliveries. The ninth over bowled by Mahedi Hasan saw him manipulate the field with two sweeps, a reverse off a full delivery past point and and another conventional one to split the deep fielders at square leg and mid-wicket underscoring his prowess. Conway got to his 50 off a more sedate 38-balls and in fortuitous circumstances after a fielder touched the boundary cushions while catching him at the square leg fence.

But once past the milestone, he hit 39 off his next 12 deliveries as New Zealand plundered 77 from their final five overs to post 210 on the board.

Were Bangladesh ever in the chase?

No, they were 44/4 by the time PowerPlay ended. Sodhi, who bowled the sixth over, had Soumya Sarkar caught and bowled spectacularly. The in-form Mohammad Mithun then attempted and missed with a hoick and was bowled. In Sodhi’s next over, Mahmudullah and Mahedi played on to deliveries giving the leggie figures of 4 for 8 after 2 overs, taking his summer tally to 20 wickets.

Any bright spark for the visitors at all?

That Sodhi didn’t finish with a fifer or his career-best figures (still 4 for 28) was down to an entertaining cameo from Afif Hossain, who hit 45 off 33 batting at No. 6. This included a hold-the-pose drive on the up off Lockie Ferguson the ball before he was cleaned up attempting an audacious lap over short third-man.

Injury and other news..

Bangladesh missed the services of veteran Mushfiqur Rahim who sat this game out with a back injury. On the other end, Ferguson returned from his stress fracture and appeared to have not lost any zing through his lengthy layoff. He finished with 2 for 25.

Brief scores: New Zealand 210/3 in 20 overs (Devon Conway 92*, Will Young 53; Nasum Ahmed 2-30) beat Bangladesh 144/8 in 20 overs (Afif Hossain 45; Ish Sodhi 4-28, Lockie Ferguson 2-25) by 66 runs.

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