Soumya and Shakib save Bangladesh, out for 289
Sports Desk: A third-wicket stand of 127 at nearly five an over between Soumya Sarkar and Shakib Al Hasan drove Bangladesh to a strong 165 for 2 before New Zealand's quicks hit back in the second session. Trent Boult and Tim Southee were all over Bangladesh, as they lost three wickets for the addition of only 14 runs, before Nurul Hasan and Nazmul Hossain Shanto, both making their Test debuts, steered them to tea with an unbroken sixth-wicket stand of 46.
The debutants were both yet to open their accounts when they came together in the 39th over, at 179 for 5, and the circumstances forced Bangladesh into traditional Test-match batting for the first time all day. Having scored at 4.65 an over till that point, Bangladesh saw out a tense 16.3-over period until tea at 2.78, with Nurul and Nazmul digging in.
The mood of the Test match had changed completely, for which New Zealand had Boult and Southee to thank. Boult struck first, getting one to stop on Sarkar and leave him off the pitch as he strode forward to drive; checking his shot, he only managed to spoon a catch into the covers. Then came a perfectly delivered short ball angled across Sabbir Rahman to square him up and produce a nick to the slips. Four balls later, Shakib overbalanced a touch while trying to glance Southee and tickled a catch down the leg side.
New Zealand could have dismissed Nurul twice. First, on 4, he reached out to a wide one from Boult and nicked towards third slip, where the ball bounced off Southee's hard hands. Then, on 21, he sparred at Colin de Grandhomme with an open bat-face, and bisected first and second slip, leaving Ross Taylor and Jeet Raval looking questioningly at each other. It wasn't their first misunderstanding of the day; Raval, diving across from second slip, had dropped Sarkar off de Grandhomme on 52, denying Taylor what would have been a simple chest-high chance.
Sarkar, making a comeback thanks to a spate of injuries to Bangladesh's players, made his maiden Test fifty and eventually fell 14 short of a hundred. It was an odd innings, defined by his willingness to go after anything remotely close to his driving arc, often stroking the ball on the up, and while it looked pretty when it came off, it often didn't, as his control percentage – 74 – suggested. His innings contained its share of plays-and-misses, airy drives that sneaked into gaps, and edges that streaked to the third-man boundary.
At the other end, Shakib was equally keen to drive on the up, but looked more secure while doing so, his footwork and weight transfer indicating the form he was in, coming off a double-hundred in the first Test. Both batsmen also pulled with authority, the fast bowlers' attempts at banging it in short causing little discomfort on a pitch with true bounce but not a lot of pace.
Sent in to bat under largely blue skies, Bangladesh's patched-up top order had to contend with a new-ball pair swinging the new ball consistently. Southee struck in the fourth over, cramping Tamim Iqbal, Bangladesh's stand-in captain, with a short, rising ball that came back in towards the left-hand batsman's right armpit. Looking to tuck it away into the leg side, Tamim only managed to glove it to the keeper.
Mahmudullah and Sarkar then added 31 brisk but uneasy runs as Southee and Boult continued to swing the new ball and beat their edges. Twice in a row, Boult bent the ball back through the gap between bat and pad after angling it across Mahmudullah, and missed the off stump by inches. Two balls later, he had a confident caught-behind appeal turned down when a short ball climbed awkwardly at the batsman. New Zealand reviewed Paul Reiffel's not-out decision, and technology confirmed the ball had gone past bat and brushed only right shoulder.
Boult didn't have to wait much longer, though. In only his next over – the 11th of Bangladesh's innings – Mahmudullah drove away from his body and outside the line of another inwardly curling delivery, and BJ Watling dived to his left behind the wickets to pluck an excellent catch off the inside edge.
Bangladesh made four changes to their XI as they dealt with an injury crisis that left them without their captain Mushfiqur Rahim and two top-order batsmen in Imrul Kayes and Mominul Haque. Apart from Sarkar, they brought in two debutants in the left-hand middle-order batsman Nazmul Hossain Shanto and the wicketkeeper-batsman Nurul Hasan, and replaced fast bowler Subhashis Roy with Rubel Hossain.