Bangladesh 289 All Out (Soumya Sarkar 86, Shakib Al Hasan 59, Nurul Hasan 47, Tim Southee 5-94, Trent Boult Boult 4-87)
Two leading pace bowlers of the world Tim Southee (5/94) and Trent Boult (4/87) on a wicket seaming and swinging restricted injury-depleted new look Bangladesh team to 289 all out on day one of the Christchurch tests. Visitors had to fall back on their reserve resources replacing their three key injured players Kayes, Mushfique, and Mominul to make the team. Nazmul Hasan Shanto and Nurul Hasan Sohan were baptized to test cricket, Dashing opener Soumya replaced Kayes. Experienced pace bowler came in place of Subhashish. Williamson winning the toss without any hesitation put Bangladesh into bat. Ball started swinging under cloud cover and even was seaming. Boult and Southee concentrated on bowling short. They managed to price out Tamim and Mahmudullah early on. Taking all these into account score of 289 cannot be considered a complete disaster. Only a few weeks back more experienced Pakistan batting was destroyed on the same wicket by the same group of Bowlers.
The feature of the day was brilliant counter-attacking aggressive batting of Soumya Sarkar and Shakib Al Hasan producing 127 runs third wicket partnership at a very impressive 4.98 per over. Their dominating stroke play was threatening for yet another huge first innings score. But Southee and Boult bowling aggressively in tandem for 52.3 overs on the day managed to break the partnership and to restrict Bangladesh below 300. Bangladeshis never play on such wickets at home and they only play on such wickets very rarely when they have an opportunity of playing outside the subcontinent. Yet one must appreciate that Bangladesh was not blown away. Not to praise the brave batting of Soumya and Shakib even the debutants Nurul Hasan and Nazmul batted with dogged defense. Tail-enders Rubel and Rabbi showed grit and determination. Wicket still has enough for the pacers. If Rubel, Taskin, and Rabbit can bowl on right channel consistently and catches are accepted Bangladesh can still make this test competitive.
After the first test second innings dismal batting and loss of Kayes, Mushfique and Mominul many predicted that Bangladesh would be blown away by Kiwi bowlers on a pace bowling assisted Hagley Oval wicket. Their thoughts got stronger when after asking Bangladesh to bat Boult and Southee started moving the ball at pace. In absence of key batsmen captain, Tamim was expected to shoulder the responsibility of the team. He is one of the most experienced batsmen highest run getter in all formats of the game. He failed to avoid a rising delivery aimed at his rib cage scoring only 5 in the fourth over nicking behind the wicket. The team relied also on another experienced batsman Mahmudullah. He spent a charmed life at the wicket playing and missing many in his 24 balls 19 runs before falling caught behind to Boult on a beautiful swinging delivery. In the meanwhile, dashing Soumya played some delightful strokes. Shakib joining Soumya positive right from the start. Being undaunted the pair let loose a savage counter-attack. Runs were coming thick and fast and mostly in boundaries. In 27 overs before lunch 127 runs were scored. Their scintillating display almost rattled the Kiwi attack. Soumya was looking graceful and Shakib’s aggression was threatening for another huge score.
During lunch interval, Kiwi bowlers regrouped rethinking their strategy. But Soumya -Shakib kept the pace of scoring going till Soumya looking good for a three-figure score mistimed a drive off the bowling of Boult to be caught at cover by de Grandhomme. His impressive innings of 86 included 11 eye pleasing boundaries. This wicket triggered a mini-collapse as three wickets fell in the space of 17 balls. Shakib and Shabbir were also consumed within this time. Shakib’s flowery innings was cut short at 59 scored from 78 deliveries with 9 strikes across the fence. Shabbir failed for the first time of the series after scoring fifties in either innings at Wellington.
Bangladesh from 2/165 suddenly crumbled to 5/179 with two debutants Shanto and Shaon coming at the wicket. Tasting blood the Kiwi pacers were breathing fire. Yet these rookies defied the aggression for almost 20 overs adding a very useful 53 runs in the process. Shanto fell to a short delivery of Southee batting 56 balls for his 18 in his maiden test innings. In matters of runs, it may sound small but he along with Shaon halted the slide which otherwise could bundle out Bangladesh below 200. Shaon with Miraj, Taskin, Rabbi and Rubel resisted short ball barrage of Kiwi pacers.
The last 5 Bangladesh wickets stretched the innings further 46 overs adding 110 invaluable runs. The following may give an indication the extent of resistance of Bangladesh tail to Kiwi hostile bowling. Shaon 47 ((98), Rubel 16* (21) Taskin 8(26) and Rabbi 2(63) . One must praise the grit and determination of Bangladeshi tail enders. Rubel got a blow on his bowling arm. Hope he remains OK to return some he absorbed with the ball.
Praise must go to Kiwi pace stars Tim Southee getting another five-for and Boult taking four. They together bowled 52.3 of the 84.3 overs bowled on the day. Williamson was so desperate for getting Bangladesh out to fast short stuff that he did not use his spinner Santner even for a single over.
The 289 is not big first innings score considering that Bangladesh lost the first test scoring almost double of that in the first innings in Wellington. But considering the injury-depleted inexperienced Bangladesh batting line-up playing on pace friendly wicket against strong pace attack it has great value. Wicket has a lot for the bowlers. If Tamim captaining the team for the first time can marshal his bowling resources to full potential setting right field Bangladesh may create challenges. This time experienced Rubel and Soumya would be contributing to bowling.
Bangladesh has already lost all ODI matches, all T20s, and the first test. They have nothing to lose. They must try and give a good account of themselves in bowling and fielding to redeem.
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