Cricket: Second verse, same as the first

By Chris Barclay

The repetitious nature of Bangladesh's cricket tour of New Zealand reappeared on cue at the Basin Reserve yesterday with the second test already following a familiar script towards an early conclusion.

The die was cast as soon as Daniel Vettori won his fifth coin toss in a row at Mohammad Ashraful's expense - the New Zealand captain had no qualms in breaking convention by again bowling first and, in a virtual replay of the first test in Dunedin, New Zealand were in total control at the close, nine runs behind with seven wickets in hand.

Bangladesh were summarily routed for 143 inside 46 overs. In reply New Zealand were 134 for three after negotiating 42 overs.

After running through the Bangladeshis in a short amount of time, Craig Cumming led a circumspect run chase, knuckling down to compile a patient 42 before succumbing leg before wicket - for the third consecutive time - late in the day.

Batting to cement his place for the England series, the opener looked solid until Shakib Al Hasan beat the bat to claim his first test wicket.

"[The lbw] hasn't been a problem for quite a while and after one test quite a bit has been mentioned about it," Cumming said.

"That creates a little bit of uncertainty in your mind and it does hurt a little bit - I worked damn hard and wanted to be there tomorrow."

The Otago captain scuffed at the ground in disgust when given out, an unfortunate end to a 117-ball vigil that contained seven boundaries.

At the other end Stephen Fleming, in what could be his penultimate test at his home ground, was resolutely eyeing his first century in Wellington after 16 unsuccessful attempts.

He finished the day not out 39 - off 91 balls - and Mathew Sinclair was unbeaten on nine.

While Fleming closes in on a significant milestone, fast bowler Chris Martin has already ticked off a couple in his 37th test.

His five-wicket haul was his eighth in tests and enabled him to join Ewen Chatfield as sixth on the list of New Zealand's test wicket takers on 123.

Martin was chiefly responsible for Bangladesh again failing to post a 200-plus score in their first innings.

They have only passed that barrier once in seven tests, though in some small consolation this was their biggest first innings since the test against India in Chittagong last year.

Martin found an unlikely ally in medium-pacer Iain O'Brien, a contentious selection who justified the exclusion of Michael Mason with career-best figures of three for 34 off 15 overs in his sixth test.

O'Brien made an inauspicious start, leaking 13 off his first over as Ashraful peeled off a trio of boundaries, but redeemed himself while toiling into a stiff northerly - bowling seven maidens while regularly beating the bat.

"It's easily the best performance of my career," he said. "Two thirds of my overs for Wellington are into the wind. It's something I enjoy - I said to Dan I wanted to do it and it's gone all right."

He bowled without luck early, Bell dropped Ashraful on 17 at cover and grassed Shakib Al Hasan after lunch, but O'Brien also had a slice of good for tune when Ashraful was given out caught behind for 35 off a non-existent edge.

English umpire Nigel Llong made the gaffe though balanced the ledger in New Zealand's innings when Bell, a centurion in Dunedin, was caught down the legside for one, despite the ball ballooning off his thigh pad as he attempted to pull Sajidul Islam.

Peter Fulton was the only other wicket to fall.

He looked set on 22 when adjudged leg before wicket by Australian umpire Peter Parker although the ball might have cleared the stumps.

New Zealand's low-risk approach was a direct contrast to the Bangladeshis, who continued their fatal tendency of attempting extravagant shots.

Seven of the dismissals fell to catches behind the wicket with Ashraful, who struck six sweet boundaries, the only one hard done by.

"We are getting out to too many balls pitching on the fifth or sixth stump,' he lamented.

Limping to lunch on 86 for five, and with Ashraful already gone, there was little prospect of building a competitive score though Aftab Ahmed plugged one end with an unbeaten 25 off 73 balls.

He endured plenty of discomfort, edging O'Brien on to his box and twice taking bumpers on the helmet.

Martin ran through the Bangladesh tail in the second session ending with five for 65.

When Shahadat Hossain was caught by Fleming, it was the former captain's 164th catch - drawing him level with retired West Indian Brian Lara as second on the all-time list behind Australian Mark Waugh's 181.

- NZPA

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