Weather the only thing standing in the way of NZ victory

Lynn McConnell

December 21, 2001

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Bangladesh's only hope of saving the first National Bank Test against New Zealand in Hamilton rests in the weather which ruined the first two days and, from their point of view, the signs are not good.

This has been a match which has dramatically highlighted the Bangladeshi inexperience in Test match play.

New Zealand bowled below standard, failing to pressure the visitors, who were only too willing to cash in on the plethora of unnecessary short-pitched bowling. And they could be thankful the visitors were not more experienced in the ways of Test cricket.

The home bowlers disappointed in the first innings. Perhaps it was a hangover from their time in Australia, but they failed to get the measure of their length in conditions that demanded fuller bowling to force the Bangladeshis onto the front foot, rather than rocking onto the back foot as is their wont.

However, there were some more worrying signs for the tourists by the end of the day as Chris Cairns looked to be starting to find his rhythm, most notably with the return of his vaunted slower ball, a sure sign of rising confidence.

In the first innings Bangladesh got too close for comfort as the follow on neared, and it was not without significance that it was a Shane Bond that accounted for Khaled Mahmud, a troublemaker in the bottom of the order who hadn't heard about giving up without a fight.

Mahmud, a fiesty batsman who revelled in the challenge, led a stunning assault on the wayward New Zealand attack and almost single-handedly took his side through to the 216 they were looking for.

The tea break possibly unsettled him, but his was a welcome wicket as the innings was all over one run later with Bangladesh 11 runs short of the mark.

Earlier, Habibul Bashar gave a demonstration of the latent batting talent waiting to benefit from more experience at international level with a nicely balanced innings of 61 runs, scored off 84 balls and including eight fours and a six.

He took 12 runs off one Chris Cairns over with an elegant cut, a well-timed pull and a lucky squirt through a vacant section of the slip cordon. Cairns in the first innings bowled without effect, but he did turn his performance around in the second innings, unveiling his slower ball again, to great effect.

Habibul hooked a ball from Craig McMillan for six runs to go to 49 and brought up his 50 off 38 balls having hit eight fours and six.

However, the arrival of Daniel Vettori and Chris Martin stemmed the run flow which placed a different sort of pressure on the batsmen and their patience wore out too quickly for comfort.

They went to lunch at 93/3 but almost immediately after the break Vettori had Mohammed Ashraful nicely caught at slip by Mathew Sinclair who slipped, but then managed to recover and lunge towards the ball to hold the chance.

Then the tension told on Bashar as Vettori kept his stranglehold and forced the batsman to offer up a chance to wide mid on where Martin held the chance.

But any thoughts the New Zealanders had of a quick finish were unrealised as they paid the price for their indifferent bowling.

Sanwar Hossain stepped into the batting breach and scored 45 off 72 balls but was undone as McMillan picked up two cheap wickets for four runs before he gave up 19 runs off one over.

Bond showed the advantages of having a fast man bowling at the tail-enders as he quickly cleaned up and ended with four for 47.

New Zealand then picked up three wickets for three runs, with Cairns sitting on a hat-trick at the top of the second innings to make Bangladesh's job that much harder.

Earlier, in the day, New Zealand added another 59 runs in 9.1 overs, a wise move as it turned out, as it ensured a slightly tougher follow on requirement for the visitors.

Mark Richardson went on to be out for 143 as Mohammed Sharif cashed in on New Zealand's loose approach to finish with three wickets for 114, after ending the first day with none for 87.

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