By Niall Anderson at the Basin Reserve
The Black Caps batsmen produced a perfect platform, and the bowlers weren't too shabby either as New Zealand moved within sight of an improbable test victory over Bangladesh.
A dashing double century from Ross Taylor, featuring stellar support in partnerships worth 216 with Henry Nicholls (107), and 172 with Kane Williamson (74), saw the Black Caps crush 394 runs in just 73.1 overs on day four of the second test at the Basin Reserve today.
Taylor's 200 was his 18th test century - surpassing mentor Martin Crowe for the second most in New Zealand history – and came off just 212 balls as the Black Caps butchered the Bangladesh bowlers. Their rapid run rate allowed them to declare at 4.40pm with a 221-run lead, enough time for the bowlers to claim three wickets before stumps as they closed in on a series-clinching win; one that looked so unlikely when the first two days were washed out.
They have Taylor most to thank for guiding them into that position of strength.
The 35-year-old rode his luck early, being dropped twice in the space of three balls on 20, off the bowling of Abu Jayed. Meanwhile, the slip cordon watched on in agony as edges, dabs and ramps from Taylor and Williamson flew over, through, and past their despairing attempts.
However, once the pair managed to subdue what was a tricky wicket, the Black Caps switched into cruise control. Taylor crunched 19 fours and four sixes as he reached 200 for the third time in his career, an incredibly timely innings that seemingly crushed Bangladesh's spirit.
That's not to downplay the contributions of Williamson and Nicholls. Williamson, battling a shoulder injury that saw him head for scans and not take the field in the second innings, wasn't at his fluent best but still managed to slay the wicket's demons to steer the hosts out of their early trouble. Nicholls, meanwhile, didn't offer a chance on his way to a fifth test century, before eventually falling trying to add further brutality to an already harsh total.
Taylor, too, fell after a milestone as he tried to slog to set up a declaration, with Bangladesh's bowlers – although not helped by their fielders - again proving to be not penetrative enough to make significant breakthroughs.
In fact, by the time Bangladesh had claimed their 10th wicket of the series, the Black Caps had racked up 1111 runs. This innings saw them reach 432-6, and their eventual declaration saw their seamers given 23 overs to make inroads before stumps.
That was enough for Trent Boult to remove Tamim Iqbal – second ball, bowled through the gate – and Mominul Haque, who was well snared at third slip by stand-in skipper Tim Southee. Shadman Islam's resolve was also snapped when he was caught behind off a Matt Henry short ball, with Bangladesh limping to stumps, still 141 runs behind.
With showers possible tomorrow evening, an early Bangladesh rearguard could be enough to salvage a draw, but the visitors possess one of the worst tail orders in international cricket history, meaning the Black Caps only need a further three wickets to be within touching distance of victory.
Considering where they stood just two days ago, it would be some effort.