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January 12, 2008
New Zealand's dominance on the first day at the Basin Reserve bore strong similarities to the opening day of the first Test in Dunedin. On that occasion, Bangladesh were bowled out for 137 and New Zealand finished the day on 156 for 4. Today Bangladesh collapsed for 143 and the home side were poised to take the lead, ending on 134 for 3. Chris Martin had taken 4 for 64 at the University Oval to lay the platform for a resounding nine-wicket win and, in Wellington, he took 5 for 65 to give New Zealand a firm grip of the second Test.
The first-innings collapse was a severe blow to Bangladesh's attempts to salvage something from a winless tour and it was triggered by poor shot selection against aggressive seam bowling. The Bangladesh batsmen had shown a lack of durability in Dunedin, lasting only 46.1 overs, and they repeated their failing with the last wicket falling in the 46th over. The New Zealand pace attack played their part; Chris Martin and Kyle Mills seamed the ball appreciably in windy conditions and Iain O'Brien, the first-change bowler, kept the pressure on. Martin, though, was the best of the three. He troubled the batsmen incessantly with pace, bounce and movement in both directions and picked up his eighth five-wicket haul in Tests.
There was assistance for the fast bowlers throughout the day and New Zealand were given an early boost when Daniel Vettori won his ninth consecutive toss and put Bangladesh in. Before the start, Ashraful said he did not want to bat either, but found himself at the crease in the ninth over after Bangladesh lost early wickets.
The Bangladesh openers needed to play with caution while the new ball was seaming and only needed to recall their century partnership in the second innings in Dunedin for inspiration. Instead Tamim Iqbal tried to unfurl shots even though he was constantly troubled by the away seam movement, especially when the length was short. His penchant for driving through the off side led to his dismissal, when he chased and edged a wide delivery from Mills to Mathew Sinclair at point.
At 17 for 1, Bangladesh needed Habibul Bashar to negotiate the testing conditions but he too played an indiscreet drive away from his body and edged Martin to wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum. The captain didn't apply himself either. Ashraful tried to hit Bangladesh out of trouble and a couple of edges off Iain O'Brien flew between gully and the heavily populated slip and cordon while Matthew Bell grassed a sharp chance at short cover.
Martin and O'Brien were relentless with the line on and just outside off stump and the batsmen weren't disciplined enough to resist. Bangladesh slipped further courtesy two edges; Junaid Siddique to a ball that was too close to leave and Shahriar Nafees to one that wasn't. The biggest blow came before lunch when Ashraful, on 35, was adjudged to have nicked a ball which brushed the pad on its way through to McCullum. Bangladesh went into the break on 86 for 5.
There was no respite for Bangladesh after lunch either as Martin struck in his first over with a ball that nipped back into Mushfiqur Rahim and rapped him on the pads. Refreshed and buoyed by the immediate success, he increased his pace and intensity and Aftab Ahmed wore one short ball on the midriff and two more on his helmet.
Aftab began uncharacteristically slowly, scoring 2 off his first 38 balls but started throwing his bat around, when he began to run out of partners. Mashrafe Mortaza, coming in at No. 11, swung at everything as 21 quick runs were added for the last wicket. New Zealand's fast bowlers were so effective that Vettori bowled only 2.3 overs and picked up the final wicket - Mortaza holing out to long-on - of a purposeless Bangladesh innings.
To regain lost ground, Bangladesh had to produce a spectacular bowling performance. They began encouragingly, taking two wickets for 35 runs before Craig Cumming and Stephen Fleming consolidated with a 83-run stand for the third wicket. The lack of a genuinely fast bowler who could hit the deck hard and exploit the bounce on this surface hampered Bangladesh and the New Zealand batsmen were not severely troubled after Mortaza's opening spell.
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