December 26, 2001

Horne's lucky break could be bad news for Bangladesh

Recalled Test opener Matt Horne had reason to be thanking his lucky stars, not inappropriately given he was dropped when on seven, in New Zealand's reply to Bangladesh's 132 in the second National Bank Test at the Basin Reserve in Wellington today.

The unfortunate second slip, Khaled Mahmud made a mess of what was a gift catching opportunity from the bowling of Manjural Islam and Horne cashed in.

New Zealand were 72 without loss, by stumps, 60 runs short of Bangladesh with Mark Richardson on 38 and Horne on 30.

They look set to cash in on tough bowling conditions for the Bangladeshis, the venom has gone out of the pitch, and half the bowling attack has to deal with bowling into the wind which is traditionally part of playing Test cricket in New Zealand's capital city.

It was an unfortunate, but predictable, day for Bangladesh, especially after Stephen Fleming won the toss and took the only viable option of asking the visitors to bat first.

The magnitude of New Zealand's victory in the first Test in Hamilton, the lack of confidence of the Bangladesh batsmen and the upbeat attitude of the CLEAR Black Caps, demanded that pressure be applied in force from the outset of this Test.

That occurred when Chris Cairns took two wickets in his second over, the third of the game. From that point it was only a case of when, not if.

The visitors' were trying hard to bat out the time demanded of them by coach Trevor Chappell. But in the process they were only able to score at barely two runs an over.

For batsmen fighting against their natural instinct to attack, it meant there would always be a flashpoint when the batsmen were tempted to take a risk and hit out.

For the New Zealanders, on a slow pitch, that involved being more patient than the batsmen. In every case it was the New Zealanders who won out.

Aminul Islam was clearly the most effective of the batsmen. He battled for 134 balls to score his 42 but he paid the price for offering the sniff of a chance to Lou Vincent fielding in the gully.

Vincent launched himself to his right with a spectacular dive, fully outstretched to get his hands beneath the ball before it hit the grass, to give fast man Shane Bond his only wicket.

But it is a measure of how uncommon it is for these batsmen to play long innings, that none of those who batted for an extensive period of time in the first Test was able to back up in Wellington.

Until their batsmen find the balance between methodical defence and less risky attacking strokeplay they are going to struggle to make an impact at Test level.

That's the harsh reality which under the demands of the ICC Test Championship, where all the Test-playing nations must meet each other at home and away within the 10-year cycle, mean there is going to be little respite for the Bangladeshis as they face some of the bigger names of the world game.

Watching New Zealand in the field, it is incomprehensible that the effervescence Vincent brings the side could ever be contemplated being restrained with wicket-keeping duties in One-Day Internationals.

Vincent took three catches in the innings, completed a run out and sprawled all over the field to save runs in a manner that could only lift his team-mates to match his standards.

Cairns took three wickets to reach 192 in Tests, Chris Drum took two along with Daniel Vettori to join the legendary Ewen Chatfield in fifth place on the all-time New Zealand bowling list with 123 Test wickets.

They will have to bowl again, possibly on the third day if plans of batting all day tomorrow work out, and while the pitch may ease up, they know from their adjustment to a fuller length in the afternoon session what will be required of them to complete their second victory of the series.