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DHAKA: New Zealand captain Tim Southee said they are expecting a “hard-fought test series” even if Bangladesh would be without several frontline players in the two-match series beginning in Sylhet on Tuesday.

Regular Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan and fast bowlers Taskin Ahmed and Ebadot Hossain have been ruled out of the series with injuries, while Litton Das will miss the matches being away on paternity leave.

Southee reckoned the home side, to be led by Najmul Hossain Shanto, would particularly miss their talismanic all-rounder Shakib and stumper-batsman Das.

“Shakib’s obviously been a great player for a long time…and Das is a class player who has done well against us in the past,” Southee told reporters on Monday.

“I guess it’s a bit of a miss for them not having those guys, but it presents an opportunity for some other guys to slip into those positions that have been occupied for a long period of time by those two.”

Southee reckoned conditions would be “foreign” in what would mark the beginning of the World Test Championship (WTC) cycle for both teams.

Injuries hamper New Zealand challenge at World Cup

“Obviously pace plays a big role back in New Zealand and in this part of the world, spin historically plays a pretty big role. “We’ve got some quality spinners that have done some great things in test cricket, so we’re looking forward to them showcasing their skills.”

New Zealand have arrived with three frontline spinners in Ish Sodhi, Mitchell Santner and Ajaz Patel and the inaugural WTC champions have more slow bowling options in all-rounders Rachin Ravindra and Glenn Phillips.

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