Chennai: A high-flying New Zealand will firmly bank on their potent batting line-up to ward off Bangladesh's capable spin attack on a slow Chepauk pitch and consolidate their position on top of the table during their World Cup match here on Friday.
The Kiwis (NRR: +1.958) have four points now, same as India (NRR: +1.5) and Pakistan (NRR: +0.92) but a better Net Run Rate has kept them ahead, and a win here will free them from the chasing pack for the time being.
In that venture, New Zealand have received a major boost as regular captain Kane Williamson and senior pacer Tim Southee are now available for selection against Bangladesh.
Williamson and Southee had missed the Kiwis' matches against England and Netherlands. Tom Latham stood in for Williamson as New Zealand captain in those games.
New Zealand coach Gary Stead revealed that Williamson had made sufficient recovery from the surgery after an ACL tear, so had Southee from the procedure on his thumb.
However, the Kiwis will have a selection dilemma. Rachin Ravindra, who batted at No. 3 in the absence of Williamson, has notched up a hundred and fifty in two World Cup outings, and the Kiwis will have to think hard as to who to be benched to accommodate the returning 33-year-old.
While keeping that minor headache for later, New Zealand will be pleased to see the form of their top-order batters like Will Young, Devon Conway and Daryl Mitchell.
However, New Zealand will want every bit of runs from them as the MA Chidambaram track could offer another turner like it did in the match between India and Australia the previous Sunday.
In that match, the Indian spinners had taken six wickets and the tweakers could come into focus on Friday as well.
Despite a walloping at the hands of England in their last match, this could be Bangladesh's secret point of joy going against the Kiwis.
Their spin trio of captain Shakib Al Hasan, Mahedi Hasan and Mehidy Hasan Miraz has taken 11 wickets from two matches.
The Tigers will pin their hopes on those three to weave their magic on New Zealand to notch up a crucial victory.
However, New Zealand also will feel quietly confident about their chances because of the presence of Mitchell Santner.
The left-arm spinner is currently the highest wicket-taker in this World Cup with seven wickets, including a fifer against the Netherlands.
Bangladesh will require senior batters like Shakib, Mushfiqur Rahim, Litton Das and Najmul Shanto to rise to the occasion and counter Santner, a massive threat in white-ball formats with several tricks up his sleeve.
However, the Antipodeans will have an edge in the pace department as the likes of Trent Boult, Matt Henry and Lockie Ferguson have a lot more experience overall and in these conditions, courtesy their IPL stints.
Even the head-to-head record gives New Zealand an overwhelming advantage.
These two teams have met on 41 occasions in ODIs, with New Zealand winning 30 times, whereas Bangladesh have won on 10 instances with a no result.
Squads: Bangladesh: Shakib Al Hasan (c), Litton Das (wk), Tanzid Hasan, Najmul Hossain Shanto (vc), Tawhid Hridoy, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Mahmudullah Riyad, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Nasum Ahmed, Mahedi Hasan, Taskin Ahmed, Mustafizur Rahman, Hasan Mahmud, Shoriful Islam, Tanzim Hasan Sakib.
New Zealand: Kane Williamson (c), Trent Boult, Mark Chapman, Devon Conway (wk), Lockie Ferguson, Matt Henry, Tom Latham (wk), Daryl Mitchell, Jimmy Neesham, Glenn Phillips (wk), Rachin Ravindra, Mitch Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Will Young.
Match starts at: 2 PM IST.