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SYLHET: New Zealand’s captain Tim Southee said Monday he was looking forward to his side’s Test series against Bangladesh, saying he hoped the Kiwis spinners would outwit their “strong” opponents.

“The guys have a great desire for Test cricket,” Southee said ahead of the opening match of the two-Test series in Bangladesh’s northeastern city Sylhet on Tuesday.

“They say it is the pinnacle of the game. Whenever we play Test cricket, it is always special. We love and prioritise Test cricket”, he added.

Bangladesh name Najmul captain for New Zealand Tests

New Zealand won the title of the opening World Test Championship in 2021 but finished sixth in the next cycle, which ended in 2023 with Australia beating India in the final.

The Kiwis have not won a Test in Bangladesh since their three-wicket win in Chittagong in 2008.

Their next three Tests, including both matches in a 2013 series, ended in a draw.

“The start of the new cycle is exciting,” Southee added. “It is a tough place to play Tests. Bangladesh are strong in these conditions.”

Southee said he hoped his spinners would tip the balance in their favour.

“It is foreign conditions compared to New Zealand – pace plays a big role in New Zealand, spin historically plays a big role in this part of the world,” Southee said.

“Our spinners have done some great things in Tests. We are looking forward to them showcasing their skills.”

The visitors named a spin-heavy squad for the upcoming series, with Mitchell Santner and Ajaz Patel joining Ish Sodhi along with two spin all-rounders, Glenn Phillips and Rachin Ravindra.

Earlier this year, New Zealand ended their 15-year wait to win a series in Bangladesh, beating the home side 2-0 in the three-match one-day international series in September before they travelled to India for the ODI World Cup.

The Kiwis put up a credible show at that tournament, losing to hosts India in the semi-final.

Bangladesh, who won just two matches in the World Cup and finished eighth, also enter a new phase with the series.

Newly-appointed captain Najmul Hossain Shanto, a batsman, will take the field as his side’s leader for the first time, with regular captain Shakib Al Hasan and his deputy Liton Das taking a break.

“I will not say we are completely new, but less experienced. It was going to happen inevitably at some stage,” Najmul said.

“I would call it an opportunity for those who are young and new to the team; they should take it as a challenge,” he said.

The second Test of the series will be held in Dhaka from December 6-10.

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