Bangladesh v NZ, 2nd Test, Chittagong, 1st day

Fleming turns the screw

The Bulletin by Chandrahas Choudhury

October 26, 2004

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New Zealand 338 for 3 (Fleming 137*, Styris 89, Rafique 2-85) v Bangladesh
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details



Stephen Fleming played a masterly knock to take the stuffing out of Bangladesh © AFP
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New Zealand dominated the first day of the second Test at Chittagong, and were put on course for a big first-innings total by Stephen Fleming and Scott Styris, who put on 204 for the third wicket. Fleming, who made an accomplished and chanceless hundred, was the star of the show. His efforts on the day gave pleasure to spectators and also to statisticians: it was his 87th Test appearance, a national record, and he also went past Martin Crowe's record for the most Test runs by a New Zealander. He came to the crease in the 13th over of the day, and was not out with 137 at the close, by which time New Zealand were firmly in charge with 338 for 3.

Bangladesh were only in the game for a short period in the morning session, when Mohammad Rafique and Enamul Haque junior took a wicket apiece to reduce New Zealand to 61 for 2. But Fleming batted with assurance from the very start, and in the company of Styris he put New Zealand into a position that they should eventually convert into their second win of the series.

Fleming's driving through the leg side, a hallmark of his game, was seen at its best during his fine innings. He put the ball unerringly into the gaps whenever the spinners pitched too close to him, and occasionally he shimmied down the pitch to hit over the top, thereby preventing the bowlers from settling into a groove. He eschewed the sweep, a stroke many of his team-mates favour, and made the great majority of his runs in an arc between square leg and extra cover.

After Fleming had won the toss and d3ecided to bat, his openers started confidently against the new ball on a wheatish-brown pitch that offered little to the quicker bowlers, and Khaled Mashud was forced to turn to Rafique as early as the 11th over of the day.

And Rafique struck almost immediately, with a gorgeous delivery that pitched on middle and leg, spun past Mathew Sinclair's defensive bat, and hit the top of off stump (49 for 1). Sinclair had hit a number of crunching drives off the back foot against the medium-pacers, but against Rafique he made the basic mistake, often seen from players not used to playing high-quality spin, of playing out in front of his pad in defence.

Sinclair's dismissal brought in Fleming, who immediately asserted himself by hitting some lancing drives with the spin. Mark Richardson was encouraged to attempt a few attacking strokes himself, and perished to Enamul, top-edging a sweep to short fine leg.



Bangladesh struck early when Matthew Sinclair was bowled for 23 © AFP
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After lunch, though, neither spinner could trouble Fleming, although Styris looked more vulnerable. In fact Styris was becalmed for an extended period, especially against Rafique, who, especially to the right-hander, seemed capable of hitting a spot on the pitch the size of a handkerchief. Styris only hit his first four off his 87th ball; thereafter he shifted gears, and by tea he had nearly caught up with his captain. He fell shortly afterwards to Rafique for 89, misjudging a back-foot stroke and chipping back a return catch (265 for 3).

Nathan Astle joined Fleming, and immediately made proceedings more interesting by trying to sweep the left-armers or work them against the spin. He survived some nervous moments, but seemed pleased when Mashud decided to take the second new ball, and put away a number of full-length balls to the boundary. All the while Fleming kept going along serenely at the other end, and in fact his scoring rate throughout the day was remarkably even - he made 37, 50 and 50 in the three sessions.

The only positive that Bangladesh could take from the day was the bowling of their spinners. Enamul, still only 17, bowled with impressive guile and control, and perfectly complemented Rafique, twice his age at 34. Rafique bowled a flatter trajectory, but possessed greater control of line and length and subtler variations; Enamul extracted turn and bounce from an economical action, but appeared still a little callow, and liable to be sorted out by Test-level batsmen. Between them they bowled almost 62 of the 92 overs bowled in the day. They may have to bowl just as many tomorrow.

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