Cricket: Can the Black Caps perform a miracle?

By David Leggat in Wellington

New Zealand's Mitchell Santner celebrates a wicket on day four. Photosport
New Zealand's Mitchell Santner celebrates a wicket on day four. Photosport

You would not have tipped this yesterday morning, but the first session at the Basin Reserve today should be compelling viewing as New Zealand and Bangladesh perform the last acts of the opening test.

Suddenly the test turned on its head in a dramatic last half hour yesterday, to the extent that where a draw had seemed the most likely result for the last two days, now both teams have some serious work to do.

In New Zealand's case, it's to hunt down the last seven Bangladesh wickets for as few runs as possible and press for victory.

Bangladesh, who start today at 66 for three, just 122 runs ahead, must occupy the crease, and get runs, for as long as possible.

They'll settle for the draw, despite having been the dominant team for the first two and a half days of the match.

But New Zealand's first innings extended out to 539 yesterday - further proof of the batting-friendly nature of the Basin pitch these days - to trail by only 56, before a hint of panic set in among the Bangladesh camp over the closing overs.

Add in that opener Imrul Kayes was taken off on a stretcher after tumbling to the ground stretching for a quick single and things are grim.

Kayes was cleared of any serious injury last night but was having ultrasound treatment.
The losses of opener Tamim Iqbal, bowled by Mitchell Santner, and Mahmudullah, who touched a catch down the legside, were heavy blows for Bangladesh.

They now rely on the impressive Mominul Haque - average 150.0 against New Zealand - who starts today on 10 - plus first innings centurymakers Shakib al Hasan and captain Mushfiqur Rahim.

The skipper hasn't taken the wicketkeeping gloves in this match due to two sore digits, but evidently he is able to bat, and he'll need to do it well again.

''I wouldn't say you sense the panic, but we've got three world-class seamers and a very good spinner," New Zealand's century making opener Tom Latham said last night.

''If we can put the ball in good areas for long enough then hopefully we can create that doubt.

''If we can keep taking wickets in clumps and if they don't build any partnerships that's the key for us."

A defeat would mean Bangladesh holding the record for the highest first innings total and still losing a test.

It would move them ahead, if that's the right term, of Australia, whose first innings 586 at Sydney in 1894-95 wasn't enough to prevent defeat by England.

- NZ Herald

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