“Bangladesh can’t win this Test, but at least they can take something positive from Hamilton by exhibiting the same fight tomorrow”
Frankly speaking, from a Bangladesh perspective, there had been nothing to cherish for the visitors on Day 3. The New Zealand batsmen, like yesterday, dominated Bangladesh attack and registered their highest ever team total in their history of Test cricket. Kane Williamson smashed his second double ton and became the quickest Kiwi batter to reach 6000 runs – he has taken as many innings as Brian Lara and Younis Khan did achieve this feat.
Kane is one of the best batsmen in the world and if you bowl without enough discipline and aggressive intent to him, he will smash you all over the park. The margin of error should be less when you bowl against the likes of Kane, Steve Smith, Virat Kohli and Joe Root. Whereas, Bangladesh bowling lacked bite throughout New Zealand’s first innings and felt the pain of getting hit time and again. Who else but Mehidy Hasan Miraz could realise the pain better who leaked 246 runs from his 45 overs – the most by a Bangladesh bowler in their 18-year old Test journey.
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The story of other Bangladeshi bowlers is quite the same – simply below-par in true sense of terms. And when they came out to bat, it was again that Tamim Iqbal stepped up to face the heat of New Zealand pace attack. Tamim changed his stance in the second innings – he stood a bit wider of legstump to counter the rib-line bowling of Wagner when he came around the wicket and it was working very well.
Bangladesh raced to 88 for 0 in a quick succession courtesy of a controlled but aggressive batting from Tamim. In Shadman Islam, Tamim found a very composed partner, but that beast named Wagner dismissed Shadman who fell to a short ball ploy. Shadman enough pressurized to execute a silly stroke against the run of play. The young mans has still a lot to learn about resolve.
Four wickets fell for just 38 runs and Bangladesh were at risk of digesting a defeat within 3 days.
Mominul Haque, Mohammad Mithun and 74-run-scorer Tamim fell shortly with Trent Boult and Tim Southee being the wrecker in chief. It was a brilliant piece of captaincy from Kane, who wanted to unsettle the new batsmen with his strike bowlers as soon as Wagner gave them the much needed breakthrough.
In the 26th over of Bangladesh second innings, a shaky Soumya Sarkar appeared in the scene to face the music of New Zealand pace attack. Tamim was still out there at the crease, but Soumya could witness how Wagner was continuously intimidating Tamim standing at cover to have a go after the short ball. For a while, Tamim could ignore Wagner’s attempt to instill doubt in his mind, but in the end, the beast won as Tamim was caught in two minds and fell to a short delivery, against which he ducked by not dropping his wrists – the ball kissed the edge and flew towards the wicketkeeper.
Such a tough beast Wagner is – even if he is not bowling, he would try to melt you by unleashing a war of words.
Kane decided to engage Wagner along with Trent Boult and Tim Southee to pepper the two new batsmen at the crease – Mahmudullah Riyad and Soumya, both of them are weak customers against movement and short-balls.
Wagner decided to set a trap by bowling loose-deliveries and make the batsman over-confident so that he succumbs to short-balls. His first delivery to Soumya in the 36th over of the day was a juicy half-volley, which was timed sweetly straight down the ground. Then Wagner pitched one short outside off, which was flashed hard above the wicketkeeper for another boundary. Wagner had enough and decided to put chills down Sarkar’s spine by dishing out a nasty delivery from a length, which shook Soumya. Obviously, his technique to counter that bouncer was flawed. It was never a smart task to cover your face with the bat in an era when you wear modern helmets.
That bouncer did not break Soumya’s spirit to fight, but he stood up there to carry on, even though the technical flaws existed. The idea to weather the bouncer-storm on a legstump-line by walking towards middle and off, when Wagner attacked from around the wicket was proving risky as neither Soumya was able to keep neither his bat away nor guarding his legstump.
But gradually, he settled own and fixed his approach towards short-pitch-bowling. Perhaps, the authority of Mahmudullah Riyad over Southee, Boult and Wagner’s attacking line-and-length bowled helped Soumya to reorganize his game.
Mahmudullah tackled the barrage of short-balls better than first innings as his initial movement came from back foot and got behind the line of the delivery quicker than previous innings. Such a ploy helped him to keep the ball on the ground more and his ability to get on top the bounce better like Shakib Al Hasan frustrated New Zealand pacers in the last 15 or 16 overs of the day.
Wagner kept a short-leg for Soumya so that his intentions to leave the rib-line bouncers from around the wicket without leaving his bat would entice an edge, but at the fag end of day Soumya could fend off the bouncers by keeping the ball down safely with his bat. Like Mahmudullah, he was able to get on top of the bounce.
Boult, Southee and Wagner combined to bowl a hostile spell since the dismissal of Tamim, but Mahmudullah and Soumya’s fighting intent and technical adjustments arrested a collapse and took the game to Day 4.
Bangladesh can’t win this Test, but at least they can take something positive from Hamilton by exhibiting the same fight tomorrow.