How the Tigers would acclimatise to Test cricket after five months without any form of first-class cricket was a major concern heading into the first Test against New Zealand at the Zohur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chittagong. The fears proved well-founded initially, but by the end of the first day yesterday, Bangladesh displayed an unexpected appreciation of the rhythms of Test cricket as they prised out three crucial wickets and restored parity through the application of continued pressure on a wicket that did not offer them anything.
The Kiwis, who dominated most of the day courtesy of a century from Kane Williamson and a patient 73 from Peter Fulton, were caught in the Tigers’ slow left-arm trap as Abdur Razzak (2-100) and Shakib Al Hasan (1-34) removed Williamson, Ross Taylor and captain Brendon McCullum in the last session.
At 244 for 2 and with 10 overs remaining it seemed as though the game was slipping away from the hosts. But Razzak who bowled with a great deal of flight throughout the day, got his reward late in the day when he induced a leading edge off Ross Taylor and got him caught at short cover in the 80th over.
Skipper Mushfiqur Rahim bowled his spinners for a majority of the day and the resultant swift over rate meant that the new ball was available as early as 3:55 pm. The spinners got extra zip with the new ball — essential on a slow surface — and both Williamson and McCullum were trapped in front in the last two overs of the day.
Prior to that Williamson had ambled to his fourth Test century with a battling innings that saw a mix of elegance and grit. He handled Bangladesh’s slow bowlers with ease almost throughout the innings and had begun by cutting Shakib for two boundaries in the batsman’s first over. He made it a habit to rock back to the spinners and as a result most of his twelve boundaries were scored through point and mid-wicket.
His only rash shot was the one which took him to his 100 — a top-edge wide of slip which went to the third-man boundary.
Earlier, it was a tough day for Bangladesh on the field as the visitors made them toil hard. Pacers Robiul Islam and Rubel Hossain seemed unthreatening in the morning session as the openers played them with ease. The wicket was very slow and it gave the batsmen enough time to adjust to any movement on offer. Mushfiqur had enough of the two-man pace attack as early as the sixth over of the game when he replaced Rubel with Abdur Razzak. Robiul was replaced by Shohag Gazi from the other end three overs later.
The spinners induced a few chances by blocking the run flow. Gazi almost had Hamish Rutherford caught behind off a bottom edge in the 19th, over only for the ball to hit Mushfiqur’s pads. Four overs later however, Rutherford skied a turning delivery from Gazi to be caught at mid-off.
Williamson came to the crease next and shared a 126-run partnership in 40 overs with Fulton — their third highest partnership this year.
It was a steady stand and frustrated the Bangladeshis. Mushfiqur was busy juggling his spinners throughout the stand, with none of them proving to be especially effective. Mushfiqur even gambled with debutant Marshall Ayub’s leg-breaks, but without success.
At the end, it was Nasir Hossain’s off-breaks that got the breakthrough right before tea when Fulton carelessly punched a length delivery straight to cover in the 63rd over of the game.
Source: The Daily Star