December 20, 2001

NZ happy with outcome on rain-reduced day

New Zealand are undecided about whether to pull out overnight or to bat on to build an even stronger position against Bangladesh in their first National Bank Test at Hamilton tomorrow.

New Zealand ended a rain-shortened day which allowed only 68 overs on 306/5. Mark Richardson, one of two New Zealand century makers was 124 not out and Chris Cairns was on 40.

New Zealand's decision is likely to be affected by the weather. If it is fine with prospects of close to a full day's play they may bat on. But if there is any doubt, attempting to get among the Bangladesh batsmen may be the goal.

It was a good recovery after New Zealand were 51/4 after a difficult first hour.

And Craig McMillan's enjoyment at playing on the Hamilton ground was borne out again today as he scored his fifth Test century.

It was an entertaining innings, full of straight drives, square cuts and some highly effective pulls through and over midwicket.

There were also the palpitations as he tried to get through the 80s and 90s as quickly as possible and got himself into tricky situations. He was out for 98 last year after his world-record over of 26 runs against Pakistan.

His seven innings in Test matches in Hamilton are 92, 84, 51, 79, 30, 98 and 106.

McMillan was untroubled by the finger injury he suffered in a car accident on Tuesday, the same day as he announced he was looking forward to scoring some more runs on one of his favoured venues.

He needed to because the New Zealand top order managed to undo the good work they did in Australia, in what were admittedly more difficult conditions than they struck over there.

Richardson also thrived in the situation and while he offered three chances before he reached 50 he went on to achieve a valuable innings for New Zealand with the prospect of more to come.

He didn't have the best of tours of Australia, on paper, but did manage to average 30 against the world-class attack and admitted afterwards that he was more nervous facing Bangladesh than the Aussies.

The novice Bangladesh bowlers may be unfamiliar with green seaming pitches, but they took to it in outstanding fashion to send back Lou Vincent (0), Mathew Sinclair (7), Stephen Fleming (4) and Nathan Astle (5).

But only Vincent contributed to his dismissal largely by his own hand.

An overly-aggressive and tactically outrageous hook shot came horribly undone from the first ball he faced, the third of the game, and he top-edged a ball from Mashrafe Mortaza which the bowler caught easily on his follow through.

The Bangladeshis could hardly believe their luck, and with due reason.

Left-arm medium pacer Manjural Islam bowled superbly. He showed it wasn't necessary to bowl with express pace to make the most of the conditions. He swung the ball and was extremely accurate and it was such a delivery that forced a tentative forward prod at the ball from Sinclair which caught the edge and was taken by wicket-keeper Khaled Mashud.

Fleming was undone outside off stump too, and provided Mashud with his second catch and the Bangladesh players were justifiably in seventh heaven with New Zealand 29/3.

Several shots from the New Zealanders during the first hour struggled to make it across the damp outfield to the boundary and several shots that might normally have been fours only produced twos and threes.

It wasn't until the 62nd minute that Richardson hit the first boundary.

But having just seen the 50 posted, Astle got a moving ball that he edged to third slip Al Sahariar and New Zealand were 51 for four wickets.