<
>

Late strikes dent Bangladesh's standing

play
Isam: New Zealand on the front foot as Bangladesh struggle with injuries (1:15)

Mohammad Isam reports from day four in Wellington as Bangladesh lost three wickets and Imrul Kayes was stretchered off due to injury (1:15)

Bangladesh 595 for 8 dec and 66 for 3 (Mominul 10*) lead New Zealand 539 (Latham 177, Santner 73, Nicholls 53, Williamson 53, Rabbi 3-87) by 122 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Bangladesh claimed a lead of 56 by bowling New Zealand out for 539 and swelled it to 122 by stumps on the fourth day, but not without casualties. The biggest of them was Imrul Kayes, who was stretchered off the field with what looked like an injury to his upper left thigh. He had kept wicket for 148.2 overs, substituting for the injured Mushfiqur Rahim and the strain of returning immediately to open the batting caught up with him while attempting a quick single in the last half hour of play. He had to dive into the crease, landed awkwardly and just lay there motionless. When the physio made his way out and tried to rouse Kayes up to his feet, he basically buckled. He just could not support his weight on his legs.

New Zealand were able to send back three more Bangladesh batsmen in the last half hour to set up a final day for which entry is free at Basin Reserve. They had begun bowling thinking the draw was the only result. With two innings left to pack into a day and bit's play, not many would fault them for that assumption. But with each wicket, they began planting close catchers and benefited from the opposition batsmen making bad choices.

Tamim Iqbal was caught napping by the first instance of sharp turn. A ball spat out of the footmarks in Mitchell Santner's fourth over and bowled him as he tried playing a cut. Then Mahmudullah tickled a harmless short ball - rare considering it came from Neil Wagner - to BJ Watling behind the stumps. And finally the nightwatchman Mehedi Hasan ran himself out looking for a second run off what became the last ball of the day.

The good thing for Bangladesh though was Mushfiqur was seen padded up and they also have first-innings double-centurion Shakib Al Hasan in the shed, who should give them the stability they need when play resumes at 10:30 am on Monday.

Nevertheless, it was a disappointing end to the day for the visitors, particularly considering the discipline they showed with the ball. Kamrul Islam Rabbi and his accurate bouncers off his slingy action were particularly hard to deal with. He struck Wagner on the shoulder once, then on the grille, which shifted back to bruise his chin and the back of his neck as well. The batsman required medical attention from the physio multiple times but refused to go off the field until he top-edged a pull to the wicketkeeper. It was Kayes' fifth catch of the match, the best haul by a substitute gloveman in Test cricket.

While everyone knew that wicket was coming, part-timer Mahmudullah's scalps were huge surprises. He often bowls in limited-overs cricket, especially at home, on slow, turning pitches. But Basin Reserve was nothing like that. The healthy grass cover on the surface made sure it held together well enough that even on the fourth day there was little spin. The bounce and pace was true and the ball kept coming onto the bat, so a spinner had to deceive batsmen in the air.

So naturally it was a silly old short ball down the leg that made things happen. Watling, on 49, wound up, trying to pull it to the fine-leg boundary, but all he could do was feather an edge through to Kayes, who had run three feet or so to his left, desperate to stop byes against his name. He had his eyes turned away from the ball when it settled snugly in his gloves.

This sequence of pure comedy was so baffling that umpire Paul Reiffel didn't spot the edge. Shakib, taking over leadership duties briefly with vice-captain Tamim off the field at the time, opted for a review and when confirmation of the nick came the entire team erupted in laughter. Four balls later Tim Southee was trapped lbw by Mahmudullah and Bangladesh were in splits.

There was one person who was decidedly stormy at that turn of events. Tom Latham. He was in the middle for 329 balls to make his highest Test score of 177. Since his first-class debut in 2010, only twice had he and the batting crease spent more time together. In 2013, he lasted 423 balls for an unbeaten 241 and in 2014 when a 383-ball investment gave him 261 runs. He fell attempting a shot that contributes a lot to him being an all-conditions batsman - the sweep.

Latham misjudged the line as Shakib tossed the ball up on middle and off. There was no room to work with, and it was a tad too full as well, sneaking under his bat to hit his front pad in front of middle stump. His 177 made it to the top 10 scores by an opener in New Zealand and he walked off to warm applause from the Sunday crowd, who at one point might have been wondering if play would begin on time.

Steady rain was forecast and it remained overcast in the morning - misty, even. But the umpires thought conditions were still good enough to start play on time at 10.30 am. That had to be pushed back by three minutes considering the New Zealand team was only just getting to the ground.

The home fans must have been chuffed with Santner though, who despite being ruffled by a short-ball barrage from the Bangladesh quicks, showed a willingness to fight it out. He took a blow to the helmet from Taskin Ahmed and nearly gloved Rabbi to the wicketkeeper but persevered through troubling times and began smacking the ball around in the final session - his cuts and pulls vicious - until he was last man out for 73 with six fours and three sixes. Bangladesh beat New Zealand to 10 Test wickets in an innings on this tour. Who would have bet on that?

While Santner has impressed ever since he was drafted into the Test team in Australia in 2015, Henry Nicholls has been the opposite. The selectors clearly trust his talent; they've kept persisting with him at No. 5 despite an average below 30. He had the chance to repay their faith on a flat pitch but, having worked hard to make 53, he tickled a drifter from Shakib heading down leg stump to a gleeful Mehedi at leg-gully. It was like catching practice.

Colin de Grandhomme hammered a four and six and then inside edged Subashis Roy to Kayes to give the debutant his first Test wicket.