December 22, 2001

Cairns regains best bowling touch to punish Bangladesh

Chris Cairns is back!

That's the obvious conclusion after he ripped through the Bangladesh batting on the last morning of the rain-affected first National Bank Test at Hamilton to give New Zealand its 48th Test victory, by an innings and 52 runs.

Cairns took five wickets in 38 balls, for seven runs, to achieve his career second-best innings figures in a manner resembling his dismantling of the West Indies when he took seven for 27, two years and two days ago on the same ground.

He finished with seven for 53 from 18.2 overs, as the Bangladeshis expired for 108, losing their last six wickets for 18 runs.

Running in with more of the familiar bounce in his stride and bowling some of his speciality balls, Cairns looked much more like the player of old.

Clearly, the overs bowled in Australia, while more costly than he would have liked, have aided his return and the longer spell he had on the fourth afternoon set him up for his triumph this morning.

He dealt a harsh lesson to Test cricket's newcomers. They have grown up on a diet of one-day cricket and that has been reflected in their inability to apply themselves for a long innings.

They were dismissed in 46.2 overs in the second innings, after managing 205 in 58.1 overs in the first innings.

When Cairns removed overnight batsman Al Sahariar for 53, it was as if the fight which had carried the side so close to avoiding the follow-on in the first innings, had evaporated in the heat of the morning on the best weather day of the Test.

For the second time in the innings Cairns was sitting on a hat-trick when having Khaled Mashud caught at first slip by Stephen Fleming and Khaled Mahmud held at second slip by Mathew Sinclair when the score was on 98.

He had to wait until his next over to complete the chance but Sanwar Hossain managed to keep the ball out.

Sanwar had looked a likely competitor in the first innings when scoring 45 on his Test debut, but he found scoring much more difficult with the better organised New Zealand bowling of the second innings and he was out for 12 from 60 balls he faced.

He was well bowled by Shane Bond, who finished with two wickets for 28 runs, to give him a match haul of six for 75, and an improving average, albeit at 40.44.

The end came quickly, meaning the match was ended in 181.4 overs, thought to be the third quickest Test win completed in New Zealand, and certainly the second fastest of New Zealand's Test victories at home.

The fastest game was Australia's win in 1945/46 which was all over in 145.2 overs. New Zealand beat England in 1983/84 in 173.3 overs.

The 108 was Bangladesh's fourth lowest score in its Test history, having a lowest of 90 against Sri Lanka in an Asian Championship match in September.

New Zealand will make one change for the second Test starting in Wellington on Wednesday with in-form Auckland batsman Matt Horne coming in for the injured Nathan Astle.

Astle injured his right hand when batting and had an x-ray yesterday which revealed only bruising.

However, the hand was still sore this morning and an MRI scan was done to reveal a hairline crack in a bone on the back of his hand. It was initially thought that he would miss only the second Test, but now there is concern that he could be out for the complete tri-series in Australia with the home country and South Africa.

That team is to be named on January 3.