Mahmudullah ton averts follow-on for Bangladesh
A rousing seventh wicket stand between Shakib Al Hasan and Mahmudullah rescued Bangladesh from the follow-on the third day at Seddon Park. New Zealand batted for five overs before bad light intervened, but lost the wicket of BJ Watling, to finish 154 ahead at stumps.
Shakib and Mahmudullah combined with Bangladesh reeling at 196 for 6, and added a stroke-filled 145, in the process setting a new Bangladesh record for the seventh wicket, to propel the score past 400.
Earlier in the day, the New Zealand seamers, supported by the ever-threatening Daniel Vettori had run rampant, demolishing the touring top order by picking up five wickets for 127 runs in the first session. Chris Martin and Tim Southee set the tone early, bowling a niggardly line and length to induce fatal errors from the overnight pair. Tamim Iqbal's innings retained little of the breathtaking panache from the previous evening, and he was out to a Southee delivery that was not short enough to pull. The remainder of the Bangladesh top order crumbled spinelessly under the relentless pressure, and things looked bleak going in to lunch at 211 for 6.
The New Zealand captain had the cushion of runs to play with, and it showed. The slip cordon was jam-packed for the seamers all morning, and a veritable swarm of close-in catchers encircled the Bangladesh batsmen while the spinners were in operation. The familiar Bangladesh collapse that ensued suggested that the match was heading to yet another embarrassing defeat for the tourists, but Shakib and Mahmudullah were on hand to arrest the slide and save face for Bangladesh.
Both batsmen were circumspect at the start of their partnership, seeing off testing spells from Chris Martin and Daryl Tuffey, before being spurred into action by the introduction of spin from both ends. Using their feet to negate the gentle turn on offer, the pair flayed the slow bowlers to all corners in the afternoon session. A series of powerful drives was punctuated with lovely instances of deft touch, Shakib in particular using the lap-sweep and the scoop shot productively. Jeetan Patel was the primary victim of the duo's assault, ending wicketless in the innings after having conceded 53 runs in 10 overs.
Chris Martin broke the resistance soon after tea with the second new ball, though replays showed that Shakib's under-edge bounced well short of Brendon McCullum, who claimed the catch instantly. It was an unfortunate end to a special innings from Shakib, who had overseen Bangladesh's rescue-operation only to fall in sight of a well deserved maiden ton. Mahmudullah however, was not to be denied and, reached the landmark soon after Shakib's departure with a boundary to square leg. He was eventually trapped in front by Daniel Vettori for a fantastic 115, while the rest of the tail perished around him. Bangladesh were all out for 408, their sixth highest total in Test matches, but still 145 runs adrift of New Zealand's first innings score.
The New Zealanders then batted out five overs of spirited bowling from the Bangladesh seamers, who created enough pressure to have BJ Watling brilliantly run out by Shakib for 1. The hosts are still well in control of the test match, ending the day effectively at 154 for 1, but Bangladesh showed encouraging signs of fight, and will hope for early wickets tomorrow if they are to challenge a New Zealand, who will hope they have seen the best that their opponents have to offer.