'One of the great character wins' - Bracewell
John Bracewell, the New Zealand coach, has hailed the team's three-wicket victory over Bangladesh in the first Test in Chittagong as "one of the great character wins". New Zealand chased down a target of 317, their second-highest fourth-innings pursuit and the biggest away from home, but they were almost embarrassed by the lowest-ranked Test team.
"Given the position we were in, it's one of the great character wins," he said. "The way the guys assessed the run-chase and applied themselves, the way they changed their technique, which was foreign to them, I couldn't heap enough praise on them."
Bracewell said the heat had affected the players, some more than others, but he was impressed with the professional attitude they had displayed. "If we're going to be living in the subcontinent in the next few years, we've got to face reality and learn to adapt and pace ourselves in the right way," he said. "It was a dramatic turnaround [from] the first to the second innings. Now we need to make sure that character turns into consistency."
He said the team was inexperienced, but he was pleased with the contributions of Aaron Redmond, the debutant Jesse Ryder and Daniel Flynn with the bat. "It's a very young batting line-up and the more we can squeeze into them, the better," he said. "We've been working on how to play over here but it's seldom in your Test career out of New Zealand that you're facing spin within the first ten overs of a Test match.
"That took its toll but the players' ability to adapt and change in a quick turnaround is testament to their commitment and their ability. The way the two of them [Redmond and Flynn] showed great adaptability to the conditions, that's not always the case with New Zealanders [in the subcontinent].
"They stubbornly go with what they know, but they put away some of their shots and reapplied their strategies to get through this game. And once Jesse got through the shock of facing spin in his first Test, he too looked comfortable in the environment."
Bracewell was all praise for Daniel Vettori but was not sure if the captain could repeatedly come up a performance like in Chittagong - he scored 55 and 76 and finished with nine wickets to win the Man-of-the-Match award. "He needs more support and it's something we're working through, getting experience into the other bowlers, trying to build their skills."
Bracewell was unsure of how the defeat in the first Test might affect Bangladesh spirits. "They may have seen it as an opportunity lost, not an opportunity that's going to destroy them. They may say 'we're getting close' and take the optimistic line."
New Zealand head to Dhaka for the second Test, which begins on Saturday, with a 1-0 lead.