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Cricket: How the Black Caps can win the second test against Bangladesh

A century to Henry Nicholls would greatly aid the Black Caps' chances of a test victory. Photo / Photosport
A century to Henry Nicholls would greatly aid the Black Caps' chances of a test victory. Photo / Photosport

With the second test forecast to resume after a day's rain, Andrew Alderson looks at five things New Zealand fans might demand from their team.

1. Henry Nicholls makes a maiden test century

As Bangladesh pace bowler Taskin Ahmed put it with gusto after the second day: "By the grace of the almighty Allah, we have taken seven New Zealand wickets". It's up to Henry Nicholls, on 56 not out, to stand up to Allah et al and make his maiden test century; provided the tail can stick with him. Nicholls rode his luck, as he grafted at his test game with a fourth half-century in his 17th innings. This is a prime chance for him to ensure New Zealand secure an advantage and to hold down the No.5 spot for the South African series.

2. Excellence becomes contagious in the field

New Zealand are approaching a First XI of spilt catches in this test series, which has stymied their momentum.

As Tim Southee noted, "no one means to drop a catch" but a lot energy has been expended chasing those lost wickets. The burden has been shared by at least six culprits, but the ground fielding has also suffered moments of shabbiness. The Black Caps are renowned as the equivalent of a circus act in world cricket with their agility and accuracy in the field, but need to improve on recent glitches. A blinder or two, perhaps instigated by ESPN Sportscenter favourite Trent Boult, could deliver the necessary impetus.

3. Trent Boult and Tim Southee get into full swing

They form a formidable combination when both are attacking simultaneously. A mixture of full, swinging deliveries and short, body-cramping balls took most of the wickets on the first day. Ideally, they might benefit from some extra life in a pitch which has sweated under covers for more than 36 hours. No form of complacency can afford to enter the Black Caps' bowling mindset with comparable first innings totals on the board.

"It'll be a good opportunity with the ball for us," bowling coach Shane Jurgensen said. "We haven't quite been at our best this series, we know that. We want to improve, so it's a chance to bowl the way we know."

4. Batsmen demonstrate confidence against spin

Shakib Al Hasan's three wickets from nine balls before stumps on the second day created the sort of New Zealand dressing room turnstile normally reserved for the Subcontinent. The hosts slumped from 252 for four to 256 for seven as he delivered his left-arm orthodox wares. It raised questions about what Bangladesh's premier spinner might deliver in the fourth innings. One imagines the spell would also pique the interest of South Africa's latest left-arm orthodox spinner Keshav Maharaj ahead of their arrival.

Jurgensen, a former Bangladesh coach, suggested the following approach to Shakib: "He's always been good at white-ball cricket. He likes it when people try to be aggressive to him. I think it's important for us to be positive, not so much by trying to hit fours and sixes, but always looking to score singles and twos to make the most of a quick outfield. That's the best way to attack him.

5. Ross Taylor reaches a record 17th test ton

This potential milestone will start to resemble a millstone if it endures beyond this test. That's not Taylor's fault, but with scores of 40, 60 and 77 this series, he's had three chances to equal the New Zealand test record of his late mentor Martin Crowe. The public is willing him on, but a race with Kane Williamson (15 centuries) is now on the horizon. Cricket drives players for different reasons and statistics are a component of Taylor's motivation. Harnessed correctly that ambition could enhance rather than detract from the team objectives. However, this mark cannot afford to be a distraction in pursuit of the Holy Grail - a maiden series victory against South Africa, the only test-playing country New Zealand have not beaten in a rubber.

- NZ Herald

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