New Zealand push for result in rain-hit match
Three days have been lost in the second Test, but New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori decided to make it a contest on the fourth. He declared with less than an hour's play left in the day, and then struck three blows in his only over to leave Bangladesh in a spot of bother.
New Zealand pulled out at 262 for 6, knowing their only chance of victory was to dismiss the hosts twice before the end of the fifth day. Put in to bat, they had wriggled out of an uncomfortable 49 for 3 thanks to a 137-run stand between Jesse Ryder and Brendon McCullum.
The pitch had dried out into a batsman-friendly deck by the afternoon. The ball was no longer swinging in the air and Bangladesh's openers looked relatively comfortable, though Junaid Siddique wasn't at ease against short-pitched deliveries from Iain O'Brien. However, at 13 without loss and after offspinner Jeetan Patel had already bowled two overs, Vettori began to stamp his mark on the game, just as he had in the first Test.
In the tenth over of Bangladesh's innings, Siddique seemed to lose all concentration, dancing down the pitch to Vettori's first ball and was stumped by McCullum. Captain Mohammad Ashraful, who was the next man in, kept out the first ball he faced, but was adjudged lbw to his second delivery and the third ball of the over. Rajin Saleh replaced his captain but soon joined Ashraful back in the dressing room following his dismissal on the last ball of the over. He was also trapped in front.
It wasn't one-way domination, though. After the rains finally let up, Ashraful won the toss and elected to bowl. His team had early success. Opener Aaron Redmond was the first to go, shouldering arms to a delivery from Mashrafe Mortaza which pitched on a good length just outside the off stump and cut back sharply. Jamie How's footwork wasn't convincing during his brief stay and the failure to meet the ball on the front foot led to his downfall. Facing the debutant Mahbubul Alam in his second over, the ball swung through the air, pitched on middle and knocked over leg stump. New Zealand's start was far from ideal as they had lost their openers with only 10 on the board.
Ross Taylor and Ryder began positively, both looking comfortable on the front foot and Taylor settled in with beautiful drives through the off side. But just as he looked set for a bigger score, he became the second player to be dismissed by an error in judgement. Like Redmond, he shouldered arms to a delivery from Shahadat Hossain, only to see it cut back off the pitch to hit the stumps. Taylor fell for 19 and ended the partnership of 39.
Ryder and McCullum helped New Zealand take the upper hand. Ryder was finally dismissed nine runs short of what would have been his first Test century in his second Test. He and McCullum both punished any short bowling through the leg side, while anything over pitched on the off side was swiftly dispatched gracefully to the boundary.
Going to lunch at 198 for 4, McCullum added two to his lunch score of 64 before he got a leading edge to a delivery from Shakib Al Hasan. He was caught at midwicket by Ashraful. Vettori hit a quick 22 before he played a delivery from Ashraful onto his stumps with the score at 233. Daniel Flynn was unbeaten on 35 and Grant Elliott had made 8 when the declaration came.
The pick of the Bangladesh bowlers was Shakib, who took 1 for 57 off 22 overs. Alam impressed in his first spell, swinging the ball in the air and moving it off the pitch.
While a result may be unlikely tomorrow, the New Zealanders will know they can win a Test match in two days. They did it in the first Test against Zimbabwe in Harare in 2005. Vettori is likely to be their key man tomorrow; in that Harare win, he had match figures of 6 for 29 and scored 127 off just 98 deliveries.