Bangladesh cricketers to face New Zealand for first time since Christchurch attacks

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Bangladesh have dealt with the trauma of the Christchurch mosque attacks by becoming closer as a team, coach Steve Rhodes said on Tuesday as his World Cup side prepared to play New Zealand for the first time since the March mass shooting.

Key points

  • Bangladesh is about to face New Zealand at the World Cup, nearly three months since the team was caught up in the Christchurch attacks
  • The Tigers kicked off their World Cup campaign with an impressive win over South Africa at the Oval
  • A win over New Zealand could put them near the top of the table after two games in the round-robin stage

A lone gunman killed 51 people and wounded more than 20 during Friday prayers at two of the city’s mosques, with the Bangladesh team bus approaching one of them as the gunfire started.

None of the players were injured and the tour was immediately abandoned.

“I’ve got so much respect for the players. The way that they’ve handled themselves after that event,” Rhodes told reporters on a soggy afternoon at the Oval in South London where Bangladesh were to play on Wednesday.

“The Christchurch awful day and the shootings, they’ve got some sort of brotherhood there now… the experience they went through together on that coach, I think it’s somehow gelled them,” added the Briton.

“I think that they’ve actually got solace from each other, they’ve tried to help each other through it. I’ve got a lot of respect and admiration for the way they’ve pulled through.”

Rhodes, whose players made a dream start to the campaign by beating South Africa by 21 runs in their World Cup opener after piling up their highest one-day international total, refused to take the credit.

Several men in training gear walk quickly through a park in Christchurch.

“Going back to that day in Christchurch, I was thinking how do we get a team back together after this? But they’ve done it; it’s not been anything special from me,” he said.

“I’ve just tried to carry on as normal because I thought that was the right thing to do. And the support that they’ve given each other has been the main thing… they knew what they needed to do.”

Bangladesh, seen as dangerous outsiders before the tournament started, face New Zealand with plenty of confidence, but Rhodes said he was not about to be carried away by the excitement.

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“We all recognise that was just one game,” he said of the South Africa match.

“We know the people back home are delighted and jumping up and down with what we’ve done, but the team and the staff know that the task is going to be tough against some of these teams and New Zealand are just one of them.

“They gave us a decent hiding this winter and we are in better shape taking them on this time around. But they are tough opposition and it’ll be difficult.”

The English weather has not helped, with training cancelled on Monday and a steady drizzle frustrating plans on Tuesday, but Rhodes said that was no concern.

“We needed to have a break yesterday, we had a tough game,” he said.

“If preparations weren’t as good as they have been we’d have been worried about a lack of cricket today. So we’re not that worried. Most of the boys are in reasonable nick.”