A gruesome day for Bangladesh was highlighted by Mushfiqur Rahim being taken off the field in an ambulance after being struck on the helmet by a bouncer from Tim Southee. The fact that he was batting in the first place, having injured his hand, was a sign of how desperate the situation was for the visitors. They were eventually bowled out for 160 seven overs after lunch. New Zealand, set 217 to win in 57 overs, absolutely raced to victory and with that they broke a record that has stood for 122 years.
In December 1894, Australia put up 586 against England in a timeless Test in Sydney and it became the highest first-innings total to result in a loss. Bangladesh take on that ignominy now having declared on 595 for 8 when they batted first in a match where nearly 50 overs were lost to rain in the first day.
It took several outrageous incidents to bring us to this stage.
Any of Kane Williamson’s shots as he reached a hundred off only 89 balls, the fourth-fastest in the fourth-innings in all Tests. He missed Gilbert Jessop’s record – set in 1902 – by 13 deliveries. And yet there were no pyrotechnics. The most he did was meet a few lifters in mid-air and paste them through cover though there was no room on offer, or alternatively work his wrists over them and find the midwicket boundary.
Then there were the four wickets in seven overs that Bangladesh lost between the 13th and 20th, and a freak injury to Kayes, who was opened the batting yesterday after keeping wicket for nearly 150 overs. That would have been difficult for a specialist let alone a stand-in. He had retired hurt, but came out to bat again adding 12 runs to his 24.
Shakib’s awful heave barely seconds after the start of play on Monday. When the concentration should have been on survival and popped a catch to mid-on off Mitchell Santner. The man who had set Bangladesh up with the possibility of beginning an overseas tour with a win, hitting their highest ever individual score of 217, fell for a duck. Mominul Haque did not see a fuller delivery from Neil Wagner, his feet were pinned to the crease, hinting he was expecting a bouncer, and was caught in the slips.
Then the horrible end to Mushfiqur’s innings at a time when he seemed to be dealing with the short ball quite well. It took one of them keeping low to eventually consume him.
There would be outcry over how often New Zealand targeted the fingers on Mushfiqur’s bottom hand – which might well be broken – but he would have known what he was in for when he decided to bat with a target on him. It isn’t in the nature of an international team to shy away from exploiting a weakness. Especially with a come-from-behind Test win on offer. Mushfiqur faced up to the challenge superbly. His bravery would not soon be forgotten. It must be celebrated even though Bangladesh couldn’t away with a favourable result. He holds one half of the record for Bangladesh’s highest partnership in Tests – 359. He came back to the ground from hospital, only to watch it become the second-highest one to result in a defeat.
There was still hope of something face-saving while Sabbir was at the crease. A naturally aggressive batsman, he spent 51 minutes without scoring – during which he could have been caught and bowled – and batted sensibly with the tail until lunch. After the break though, perhaps worried by Kamrul Islam Rabbi and Subashis Roy’s batting abilities, he began taking a lot more risks and was caught behind for 50 while attempting an on the up square drive. Bangladesh lost their last four wickets for 23 runs as Trent Boult picked up 3 for 53, bowling Roy and Taskin Ahmed with reverse swing.
Mehedi Hasan, given the new ball again, dismissed Jeet Raval and Tom Latham before tea, beating the first man with flight to earn himself a return catch and the second with turn as a half-hearted defensive shot led to an inside edge onto the stumps. But Bangladesh bowled poorly thereafter, drained by their injury worries and shocked by how wildly the match had turned. Even as late as tea on the fourth day neither team had begun their second innings. By 5.47pm on the fifth, the visitors were beaten. Badly. They couldn’t get the simple disciplines right. The quicks were too short, the spinners bowled leg stump and outside and while that was meant to slow down the scoring, it had the opposite effect. In a 10-over after the second wicket, they leaked 77 runs.
New Zealand’s overall run-rate – 5.47 – was the third-highest in the fourth innings as Williamson, with his 15th century, and Ross Taylor, with his 24th fifty, put on their eighth hundred partnership and ensured the fans who packed the Basin Reserve – it was free entry for the final day – witnessed history.
Source: ESPN Cricinfo