Cricket: Bangladesh start strongly in first test

By David Leggat, in Wellington

Bangladesh batsman Mominul Hague plays a drive for four runs. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Bangladesh batsman Mominul Hague plays a drive for four runs. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Bangladesh a pushover in the tests, remember? Put a cork in that idea, on the basis of a gritty batting performance on today's rain-shortened opening day of the first test at the Basin Reserve.

On one of the more miserable days at the ground Wellingtonians like to call New Zealand cricket's HQ, Bangladesh made a decent fist of batting first, and battling blustery northerly winds to reach 154 for three in 40.2 overs.

Another similarly resolute performance tomorrow, and Bangladesh will have, at the least, giving New Zealand plenty of food for thought.

''I thought we handled the bowling quite well and we put the bad balls away," opener Tamim Iqbal said.

''I thought if Mahmudullah was there at the end would be ideal day for us. Think we played very well today."

No argument from New Zealand either.

''It was Bangladesh's day," seamer Neil Wagner admitted.

Indeed had Mahmudullah not departed late on to a poor shot chasing a widish ball, it would have been a fine day for the tourists, considering the perceived relative merits of the teams when it comes to test cricket.

There's much play to run in this series, but assuming Bangladesh want to make it clear from the start that they're determined not to be the soft touches of old, they could scarcely have done much more over the course of today's 40.2 overs.

Lefthander Tamim grabbed his fourth half century in six innings in New Zealand, at a rapid rate, then another leftie, little Mominul Haque, and Mahmudullah put on 80 for the third wicket, all the while being blown around in Wellington's wind tunnel.

Mominul starts tomorrow at 64, eyeing a third century against New Zealand.

The bowling was patchy.

Trent Boult was ordinary early; Tim Southee very impressive in the same period, only to be spanked for four fours and a six in his last nine balls of the day by the compact Mominul; Wagner was bustling and tidy - and saw Mitchell Santner spill Shakib al Hasan at square leg off him just before the end.

It was no fun watching today with a constant crashing and banging around the stand, and no fun for Sky's camera staff either.

Two operators at the southern end gave up the fight after lunch and retreated to terra firma as the winds threatened serious harm.

That meant TV coverage went all retro, with every second over focusing -- as an Australian producer once memorably remarked -- on a batsman's backside.

The pan eye cameras, positioned side on, which provide shots of run out moments and front foot no balls, were down all day.

Ground staff battled gamely against pitch covers which had a mind of their own when the breeze got up. It was the Basin at its most bloody-minded.

Tamim tellingly remarked that he felt ''as if someone was pulling me from behind. I've never experienced such wind in my life."

You could imagine when Kane Williamson won the toss, Bangladesh spirits sank. It could have gone all wrong had Southee and Boult been as sharply incisive as they can be, and Bangladesh techniques gone to the dogs.

Instead, setting aside all the imperfections of the day, it offered hope that Bangladesh's weak test performances here will be consigned to a thing of the past.

''We missed a little bit and got hurt," Wagner said. ''The Bangladeshis showed a lot of intent and we never really settled into a rhythm because of the way they batted."

Wagner's attitude mirrors his bowling philosophy - up and at 'em, the glass half full.

''We'll start really positive and aggressive and put the squeeze on them. We are fighters and we'll come back fighting."

- NZ Herald

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