HAMILTON – New Zealand captain Kane Williamson said Wednesday recent Test upsets mean “anybody can beat anybody” and the world number two ranked side can have no room for complacency against minnows Bangladesh.
The Black Caps made history this week when they were elevated to second in the ICC Test team rankings for the first time following South Africa's shock 2-0 defeat at home to Sri Lanka, the only time an Asian team has won a series in South Africa.
It came hot on the heels of the eighth-ranked West Indies also enjoying a stunning result at home by winning a Test series against England for the first time since 2009.
“Sri Lanka over in South Africa was a fantastic effort,” said Williamson when naming his team for the opening match of a three-match Test series against Bangladesh which begins in Hamilton on Thursday.
“It's so hard to beat a side like South Africa anywhere, let alone in their backyard, but anybody can beat anybody.”
Ninth-ranked Bangladesh, who have enjoyed home Test wins against England and Australia in recent years, say Sri Lanka's victory in South Africa stands as a beacon for them.
“What Sri Lanka did was remarkable,” said Bangladesh coach Steve Rhodes. “When the boys look at those results it definitely will be an inspiration for them and I will use it in the team talk.
“If we play anything like we can do, we will surprise the New Zealanders.”
🗣“Anybody can beat anybody, so it’s about playing your best cricket and focussing on what you are trying to achieve as a team.”— BLACKCAPS (@BLACKCAPS) February 27, 2019
- Captain Kane Williamson comments on the recent Test results around the 🌏 #NZvBAN pic.twitter.com/DwGTeH9gTe
New Zealand dominated Sri Lanka before Christmas, leaving Williamson to suggest it was best to shut the rankings out of the conversation.
“It's all about winning the series, as in every series that is sort of the goal you take into it,” he said.
“As we've seen, the rankings are sometimes in your control and sometimes outside your control so it's a very difficult thing to focus on.
“We know if we are playing good cricket day in and day out then perhaps those things will lean your way.”
New Zealand have made one change from the side that played their last Test, a victory over Sri Lanka two months ago by 423 runs, with Todd Astle coming in for Ajaz Patel.
The Seddon Park wicket is usually regarded as a good batting strip but Williamson said it “looks a little different” this year and he was undecided on what he would do should he win the toss.
Jeet Raval, Tom Latham, Kane Williamson (capt), Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, BJ Watling, Colin de Grandhomme, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner, Todd Astle, Trent Boult
Agence France-Presse (AFP)