Rain on the third day reduced Christchurch Test to the second innings shoot-out. With the match hanging in a balance, not even a single over could be bowled on an entire day as heavy rain almost incessant kept wicket and the surrounding covered.
With two days left, the match can still be decided on positive note depending on how Bangladesh bats on the rain-affected the fourth day. Kane Williamson may consider declaring with 29 runs behind exposing Pakistan on moisture containing wicket under cloud cover tomorrow early. Bangladesh scored 289 in the first innings and New Zealand was 260/7 at stumps on the second day. The weather forecast on the fourth day shows not such day long interruption. A lot of cricket may be possible. But it may be challenging batting on moisture containing wicket and heavy outfield.
The inexperienced Bangladesh batting will have tough test containing and confronting very hostile Kiwi pace attack. The tasks of the senior players Tamim, Mahmudullah, and Shakib would the cut out for providing the backbone of the innings. Tamim only played a great first innings at Basin Reserve of the three he has played so far. Mahmudullah is completely out of touch. Shakib produced two superlative innings. Bangladesh lost the way in the only innings he faltered. Soumya Sarkar slotting back to his favored role as opener played a delightful first innings in the test. Apart from these four only Shabbir played is playing on his fourth test. He batted reasonably well in the first test scoring fifties in both. Two debutants Nurul Hasan and Nazmul Hasan showed a lot of promise in the first innings. The other five cannot be relied upon for repeating the first innings commitment on a difficult surface.
In any case, Bangladesh must play with a plan in the second innings. Tim Southee, Trent Boult, and Neil Wagner may again take a stern test of short fast rib cage targeting stuff. Bangladesh openers Tamim and Soumya must weather the early storm stitching together a good 1st wicket partnership for later order batsmen to consolidate. Other long innings from Tamim have become due. Soumya also seems to have found his golden aggressive form. When he bats well he dominates the bowling and upset the rhyme of the bowlers. Watching Mahmudullah groping and searching in the first innings and dogged defense of Nazmul Hasan Shanto in the first innings would suggest playing Shanto at number three and shuffling Mahmudullah at number five after Shakib. By that time seam and swing may be much less for him to rediscover his form. We expect Shakib would realize the value of him batting well in addition to his great contribution in the test so far. One of the great all-rounders of all time should produce a match winning performance. Shabbir a, Mahmudullah, Nurul Hasan and Mehedi Miraj can consolidate if the top and early middle order can set the foundation. Bangladesh would need at least 300 to challenge New Zealand in the second innings and bat throughout the fourth day.
From what I have seen in the first innings three Bangladeshi pacers bowled exceedingly well in the first innings. Rubel, Taskin, and Rabbit produced the best two hours’ hostile pace bowling in its test history. Shakib and Miraj with crafty spin bowling can take a spin test of the skills of the kiwis. If Bangladesh fields well in the second innings, we can be assured that Bangladesh would make it difficult for Kiwis in the last innings. But before that Bangladesh must bat well and bat with a plan.
If no more time is lost still all three results are possible. A win by Bangladesh will be a huge achievement, a draw will also salvage some pride. But a loss will lead to comprehensive whitewash on this tour which Bangladesh does not deserve.
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