“The inspiring fight back at Hamilton in fourth innings should have helped Bangladesh to show more character against New Zealand pacers today, but the way Mominul Haque, Soumya Sarkar, Mohammad Mithun and skipper Mahmudullah Riyad were dismissed – the lack of temperament should be blamed more than technique”

The first two days had been washed out due to a heavy downpour. The rainfall stopped, but the cloud overhead was grey and always bore the risk of another washout. But thankfully, the game could go on for more than 70 overs and during this brief period, it offered some rib-line bowling from a monster named Neil Wagner, a piece of gem from Chattogram’s Tamim Iqbal and yet again, the failure of Bangladesh middle-order batsmen to cope under pressure.

Also read: Soumya Sarkar and Mahmudullah Riyad sow the seed of confidence

Even though the Wellington deck was painted green – a rarity these days – but it did not bother Tamim and Shadman Islam at all. Both of them repeated the good works done at Hamilton and notched up yet another fifty-run stand for the third time in a row in New Zealand – a feat which has been achieved after almost two decades. It was the dynamic duo of Gary Kirsten and Herschelle Gibbs, who last did a Tamim-and-Shadman way back in 1999.

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Tim Southee and Trent Boult struggled to achieve the desired movement off the seam and surface early on and thus, it allowed Tamim and Shadman to adapt quickly. But when they started to achieve movement, it did not matter much as by then Tamim had entered into the zone from where he can bat the way he likes – pivot on the back foot and dish out the stylish slashes through the square of the wicket – a photographers delight.

The openers gave Bangladesh the desired platform on a greenish deck, but sadly, Bangladesh middle order repeated the display of fragile temperament in first innings at Hamilton. Kane Williamson engaged Wagner to fetch to pile on the pressure and as usual, Bangladesh melted like an ice sculpture in a hot desert.

The inspiring fight back at Hamilton in fourth innings should have helped Bangladesh to show more character against New Zealand pacers today, but the way Mominul Haque, Soumya Sarkar, Mohammad Mithun and skipper Mahmudullah Riyad were dismissed – the lack of temperament should be blamed more than technique.

Southee and Wagner create doubts in Mominul’s mind

Over number 32

New Zealand studied the weakness of Mominul in first Test. He is a vulnerable customer in and around the middle-and-leg-stump line from a shortish-length. Before Wagner’s over, Southee operated with two slips, a gully and short midwicket against Mominul – the plan was to entice him to execute a pull or hook shot or trap him in a situation where he obliges to leave the shortish-ones down the leg side without protecting his gloves and bat handle.

The second ball was hit for four, but the following deliveries were and angled towards middle and leg stump more. It put Mominul in a discomfort zone. A single in the following delivery would allow him to face Wagner’s rib-line stuffs.

Over number 33

Wagner ran in like a predator that was thirsty for flesh and blood.

But he did the opposite of what Mominul was thinking.

In fact, Mominul’s stance hinted that he was prepared for Wagner’s line of attack, which would be similar to Southee’s last over, but Wagner pitched back-to-back deliveries short outside the offtsump, against which a surprised Mominul tried to push and got beaten.

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In the third delivery, Wagner went the Southee-way – a surprised Mominul was caught behind by BJ Watling while leaving a leg-side-short-of-a-length delivery bowled around the ribcage. The dismissal was the carbon copy of first innings of first Test.

Clearly, in the battle of mind games, New Zealand exploited Mominul’s weakness smartly. They forced him to trap in a zone, where the batsman starts to doubt his abilities and repeat the mistakes.

Wagner changes line to off, Mithun caught in two minds

Frankly, the last three balls, which Mohammad Mithun faced from Wagner were countered quite confidently. He went back well and defended when the ball pitched from a shortish length and legstump line, and ducked confidently when it posed a threat.

Over number 35
Mithun was gifted more of the rib-line bowling from Wagner. What more required was the focus, which he exhibited in the previous three deliveries. After negotiating four deliveries, he should not have gone for the pull shot in the fifth, but left it alone. That pull shot only helped Wagner to realise, Mithun was feeling the pressure and like Mominul he was caught in two minds.

Wagner changed the line from leg to off in the final delivery – the last ball before lunch.

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Mithun, caught in two minds, failed to drop his wrists while leaving the ball, which jumped from a short-length towards middle and off. The ball kissed his inside edge and flew towards Watling. One could not understand whether Mithun was trying to get on top of bounce or not, but clearly, he was out-thought by Wagner.

The offstump line of attack for Soumya Sarkar  

New Zealand studied Soumya’s change of stance against short balls in Hamilton. His back-and-across movement helped him to play one of the best knocks in his Test career.

New Zealand persisted with a line in-and-around third and fourth stump and instead of two, three slips was kept in place when Matt Henry was operating with Wagner. Henry persisted with a nagging line and incisive length. Soumya smothered one for six and Henry could sense his intention to counterattack – a ploy, which was not needed under the circumstances. He dished out one juicy-half-long-hop around off against which Soumya attempted a swing with an angled the bat out of nowhere. Maybe Soumya wanted to disturb the line of attack, but with an angled bat it won’t be easy. Henry’s persistence paid off.

Wagner melts down Mahmudullah

In the first innings at Hamilton, Mahmudullah wanted to shrug off his resolve and attack Wagner. It resulted in a silly pull shot. Wagner piled on the pressure by bowling his traditional line and length and Mahmudullah simply melted. In the second innings, Mahmudullah showed was much more disciplined against Wagner, but it was surprising to see him repeat the Hamilton-type-dismissal at Wellington.

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Mahmudullah garnered confidence by fetching runs against Henry, but against Wagner, the reason for his jumping and back and across could not be understood. You don’t need to jump back and across to get on top of the bounce, but can do it normally as well. Wagner continued to pose a threat and in the end, a harmless delivery accounted for his wicket. The captain was undone by a lack of temperament.


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