Mehrab Hossain jnr: "We never looked at the scoreboard and just stuck to the team plan" © AFP

With a team reduced to 44 for 4, anyone might blame the top-order batsmen, but Mehrab Hossain jnr, one of Bangladesh's rescue men today, did not shy from praising his team-mates for sticking to their job. Mehrab and fellow half-centurion Mushfiqur Rahim shared an unbroken 139-run stand, a fifth-wicket record for Bangladesh, and said they were only "executing the plan", like the batsmen before them.

"We never looked at the scoreboard and just stuck to the team plan," said Mehrab. "We did not want to give away wickets to the new ball and I thought the first three batsmen did that job pretty well in the first session. The focus then was to wait for the loose balls and not press the panic button if runs didn't come freely."

Bangladesh's top four had scores of 18, 0, 20 and 2, but played out over 40 overs, easily taking the shine off the new ball. Mehrab, though, said Bangladesh need much more. "We can't say that we are safe. We are 183 for 4 and need to bat like this tomorrow also," he said.

Playing his second Test - his first was in June 2007 - Mehrab was not worried about getting the remaining 21 runs for his first Test century. "I think I'll get good sleep tonight," he said. "I'm really tired."

His unbroken stand with Rahim sapped the energy out of the opposition bowlers. "They [New Zealand] looked tired. It is really hot out there and I could see frustration creeping in, especially in the pacers when we were playing them easily," said Mehrab. "It is hard work playing out there in that heat.

"[Jeetan] Patel's balls were coming on to the bat nicely and it was difficult for Daniel [Vettori] to get much purchase out of the wicket on the first day. I thought their pacers, Iain O'Brien in particular, bowled very well."

For the first half of their innings, Bangladesh crawled at a run an over in their innings, scoring 44 in 43 overs with four batsmen out. Mehrab felt the pitch was playing nicely. "The wicket is pretty flat and we realised that pretty soon. From then on it was just a case of playing the ball on its merit."