Unresponsive pitch frustrates Boult, Gazi
New Zealand ended the fourth day of the first Test with an 85-run lead, but an unresponsive pitch meant Trent Boult and his fellow seamers endured another difficult outing - the second in a row. The placid surface, the shower that forced an early finish and the poor weather forecast for Sunday have drastically reduced the probability of a result in Chittagong.
"It's very tough out there," Boult said after Bangladesh amassed 501 in their first innings. "It is a flat surface and pretty unresponsive. The ball tended to scuff up quite quickly as well, so the new ball was very important, but it very testing as a seam bowler specifically." Boult managed to dismiss Tamim Iqbal last evening to reach 50 Test wickets, and trapped Abdur Razzak lbw in the morning session.
New Zealand will look to increase their lead substantially before giving Bangladesh a crack at a target but given their cautious start - Peter Fulton and Kane Williamson took nearly 25 overs to add 69 runs - and the time already lost due to rain, prospects of a result have dipped considerably.
Boult disagreed, though: "I think we have a lot of batting to do, [put together a] couple of partnerships. The final session got called off with rain but we can't get too far ahead of ourselves. We have to get a few more runs and see what happens from there. It's a good opportunity for some good cricket to be played. I can definitely see a result if that happens. Hopefully the weather stays away."
Sohag Gazi, who made his maiden Test century, he pointed out the difficulty faced by the bowlers on a docile pitch. "We will try to win the match by getting them all out as quick as we can. But having said that, the wicket has offered no help, so if a batsman decides to play straight, it is hard to get him out. We will try to apply pressure through dot balls."
Given their near-perfect Test record against Bangladesh, one might have expected New Zealand to be more aggressive in the second innings but Hamish Rutherford, with 32 off 45 balls, was the only batsman who had a strike-rate over 50. The Bangladesh spinners kept things tight, and captain Mushfiqur Rahim gave only five overs to his seamers.
Gazi, Shakib Al Hasan and Abdur Razzak used the crease well to create different angles for the batsman but the lack of spin was frustrating. Shakib, in search for turn, switched to over the wicket, but the ones he hoped to turn across Fulton and Williamson, continued straight and sometimes past the wicketkeeper.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets here