Bangladesh v New Zealand, 1st Test, Dhaka, 3rd day October 21, 2004

McCullum puts New Zealand on top

Bangladesh 177 and 41 for 2 (Iqbal 24*) trail New Zealand 402 (McCullum 143, Rafique 6-122) by 184 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Brendon McCullum hit 143 to rescue New Zealand from the brink of embarrassment © AFP

Brendon McCullum stroked his way to his maiden Test hundred (143) to give New Zealand a lead of 225 runs, before Bangladesh lost two wickets before the end of the day, and looked set to lose the first match of the series within four days. They reached the close on 41 for 2, with Daniel Vettori doing the damage second-time around.

The day had belonged entirely to New Zealand. They first frustrated Bangladesh by repelling the bowling with ease, and then built a comfortable lead for their team before prising out Javed Omar and Hannan Sarkar before the close. When they resumed their innings, unperturbed by the absence of specialist batsmen, McCullum did not attempt to shield the tailenders when the spinners came on. And Vettori (23) and James Franklin (22) held their own, in partnerships of 71 and 57. While McCullum went after the loose balls, Vettori and Franklin tapped it around, applying themselves in a manner missing when the top order batted yesterday. McCullum fed off their comfort, and took the match further away from Bangladesh.

McCullum was quick to pounce on anything either too short or too full, and though he was mostly fluent, he did enjoy some luck. Two catches were dropped, but he carried on as if nothing had happened. Cuts flew to the fence. Sweeps beat the fielders. He stayed back and played strokes as late as possible. Some balls stayed low, others jumped, and patience was needed, of which he had plenty. Bangladesh grew more and more dispirited as his score grew. When he eventually fell, it was while attempting to steer Mohammad Rafique to leg - a shot he had played successfully until then (371 for 9). But New Zealand were safe, and had broken away from Bangladesh's clutches for the first time in three days.

Bangladesh were restricted by their limited bowling attack. Apart from Rafique (6 for 122) and Manjural, no-one looked likely to get a wicket, and runs came freely when the fast men bowled. They had opportunities: the new ball swung, but it was pitched on the wrong line, and a shot off McCullum flew airily to third man, where the fielder chose to save four runs, rather than dive for a catch. Apart from the spinners, Bangladesh lacked penetration. Vettori fell to an outstanding catch by Nafis Iqbal, and Franklin attempted an over-ambitious pull (351 for 8).

Soon, Bangladesh's batsmen were in pads, with the task of wiping out the considerable lead. They played steadily at first, barring two edges off Franklin that went through slips to the boundary, but all that changed when Vettori came on. Getting one to turn a bit, he clipped Omar's outside-edge, before Sarkar tried playing a ball to leg, but edged it back to Vettori (33 for 2). Nafis Iqbal was still there on 24, though, striking the odd defiant shot, but there was no doubt about which team was in complete control of the game.

Rahul Bhatia is on the staff of Wisden Cricinfo.