Redmond fifty sets up interesting finish
A see-saw Test match continued to swing from one side to the other on a riveting fourth day at Chittagong. A partnership of 90 between Aaron Redmond and Jesse Ryder raised New Zealand's hopes of a win but Ryder's wicket just before stumps brought Bangladesh right back into the match.
New Zealand are, however, the better placed going into the final day at 145 for 2, needing another 172 for victory as Redmond along with captain Daniel Vettori, who came in as night watchman, look to maintain their unbeaten record against the hosts.
Returning after the tea break at 84 for 1 and chasing 317 for what earlier seemed to be an improbable win, Ryder and Redmond looked set to take the visitors through to stumps but, with three overs to go, Ryder was run out to a direct hit by Mashrafe Mortaza from third man.
The debutant made an impressive 38, which included four boundaries, looking comfortable in the middle and determined to lead his team to victory on the final day. The second-wicket partnership with Redmond, who remained unbeaten on 62, was a record against Bangladesh.
The wicket was just the boost Bangladesh needed as the lack of confidence and enthusiasm had clearly begun to show. In sight of a historic win themselves, the bowlers seemed to have lost the fire evident in the first innings as the New Zealand batsmen looked in total control throughout the final session with the pitch having lost most of its spin and bounce. The only wicket taker was Abdur Razzak, who dismissed Jamie How for 36.
The day though, belonged to Redmond. Not only did he post his first Test fifty, he also picked up his maiden Test wicket earlier in the day. The part-time leg spinner had Mortaza stumped for 44.
Mortaza, who looked like taking the game away from New Zealand, put on 40 along with Abdur Razzak for the ninth wicket earlier in the day after Bangladesh resumed on their overnight score of 184 for 8. And even after Razzak was caught by Ross Taylor off Iain O'Brien, Mortaza added another crucial 22 runs, helping Bangladesh reach 242.
Vettori may have missed his second five-wicket haul in the match, ending with figures of 4 for 74, but would have been pleased at having kept the target within reach.
After surviving the three overs before lunch, Redmond and Jamie How resumed after the break taking the score to 55 before How was dismissed. Giving himself room outside the leg stump to a ball from Razzak, he was clean bowled after having done all the hard work initially.
In what seemed to be a complete turnaround in performance this series from the openers, How took the attack to the Bangladesh bowling. Unlike most of the batsmen in the first innings, he used his feet well and was not afraid to come down the pitch to meet the spinners.
Redmond, however, was far more circumspect. He was unbeaten on 27 going into lunch, and continued the defensive approach he adopted in the first innings. Two boundaries in the last over before tea helped improve the strike rate as he remained unbeaten on 62 off 192 balls.
While the opening stand was the highest by a New Zealand pair in Bangladesh, they failed to rotate the strike often. Of the 210 deliveries bowled in the innings till tea, there were only 28 singles and 169 dot balls. However, Redmond stepped up the pace in the final session with Ryder. He played some beautiful late cuts down to the boundary and began picking up more singles as the field spread.
It has been an important innings for the opener, who failed on the recent tour of England, scoring his previous best score of 28 in Test cricket at Old Trafford.
Peter Burdon is a cricket writer based in New Zealand