Cricket: McCullum tactic fails to avert test draw

By Kris Shannon

Bangladesh's Sohag Gazi enjoyed an amazing match. Photo / AP
Bangladesh's Sohag Gazi enjoyed an amazing match. Photo / AP

Brendon McCullum's sporting declaration was always asking a lot from his bowlers but that hardly means the unit should be spared a shake-up before the second test.

The opening match in Chittagong, meandering towards a draw for much of the weekend, sparked to life in the middle session on the final day with a moment of brilliance followed by one of boldness.

But a terrific hat-trick from Bangladesh off-spinner Sohag Gazi and a teasing declaration from McCullum eventually counted for nothing, with the hosts batting out the final 45 overs to seal a second draw from 10 tests against New Zealand.

When McCullum set Bangladesh a chase of 256, they may have fancied their chances of adding to their tally of four test triumphs. But the minnows never seriously threatened to snatch win No 5, progressing to 173-3 when stumps were pulled.

Given his charges struggled mightily to take 10 wickets in the first innings, McCullum would have never realistically expected to come out on top after pulling the plug on his side's second innings.

But, even when factoring in a track which offered little for any bowler, he would have rightly expected more out of his spin-bowling duo, especially considering the hosts' slow-bowling troupe claimed 16 of the 17 tourists to fall.

Despite Shere Bangla National Stadium historically offering something for the spinners, it would be no surprise if the selectors played an extra paceman in the second test.

Bruce Martin and Ish Sodhi did little in Chittagong to warrant retention and, with Neil Wagner and Mark Gillespie waiting in the wings, one of the pair could make way, especially after Kane Williamson demonstrated his proficiency with the ball.

Sodhi did finish the match with three wickets and the 20-year-old will only benefit from further exposure. Martin, though, seems likely to strike only if a batsman plays a poor shot, and he should consider himself fortunate if his brace late on day five sees him survive.

Corey Anderson will be the other man watching over his shoulder in the nets this week. New Zealand have in recent seasons struggled to find an all-rounder who adds value in both facets of the game, but the test debutant was twice dismissed cheaply to go with his two wickets.

The inclusion of an extra seamer could see Anderson replaced by Dean Brownlie in the middle order, though that would leave New Zealand with just five genuine bowling options.

Bangladesh needed only one to rip through NZ's middle order on the final day, with Gazi victimising the tourists on the same surface their own slow-bowling unit found so lifeless.

The off-spinner had already claimed a couple of wickets in the first innings when he produced a moment of magic in his second turn with the ball. After picking up Peter Fulton (59) and Kane Williamson (74) in the morning session, Gazi trapped Anderson in front before inducing edges from BJ Watling and Doug Bracewell to send both back to the pavilion first ball.

It was the first test hat-trick against New Zealand since Ryan Sidebottom in 2008, while Gazi - following his unbeaten 101 batting at No 8 - became the only man in test history to score a century and snare scalps on three consecutive balls in the same match.

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