- Publish Date
- Sunday, 3 December 2023, 10:09AM
By Kris Shannon
After going unbeaten in the teams’ first 15 tests, the Black Caps have been thrashed by Bangladesh for the second time in as many years.
Tim Southee’s side succumbed today to a 150-run defeat in the first test in Sylhet, unable to mount a miraculous fifth-day revival after crumbling with the bat on the fourth afternoon.
It was Bangladesh’s first test victory over the Black Caps at home — following a historic eight-wicket triumph in Mount Maunganui in January 2022 — and saw the sides make divergent starts to the new World Test Championship cycle.
Excluding matches against Zimbabwe and Afghanistan, only once in tests have Bangladesh recorded a more comprehensive win by runs, their 2018 thumping of the West Indies by an innings and 184 runs.
The hosts’ performance across the second half of this test was every bit as dominant as the final margin would suggest, shrugging of the absences of captain Shakib Al Hasan and deputy Litton Das.
Veteran spinner Taijul Islam completed the rout with another two scalps on the fifth morning, thriving on a turning track to earn player-of-the-match honours while finishing with 10-184.
“We’ve come to know that Bangladesh are a tough side to play in this part of the world,” Southee said. “They’re very used to these conditions and it’s a tough place to come and play.
“Every time you lose it’s not ideal and I think it’s just a sign of an ever-improving Bangladesh team.”
The New Zealand batters had few solutions for the hosts’ spin attack on a surface that offered assistance but maintained its consistency in a manner that belied the Black Caps’ second-innings collapse.
Set a target of 332 for victory, the tourists slumped to 102-7 before stumps on the fourth day, with only Daryl Mitchell displaying the requisite application. That ended — along with the Black Caps’ faint hopes — when the No 5 was dismissed for 58 in the 10th over of play today.
The explanation for the batters’ struggles was simple according to Southee, whose 34 represented his side’s second-highest score in their second turn.
“The Bangladesh bowlers were able to apply pressure for a long period of time,” the skipper said. “They were very accurate in the style they bowled.
“We know over here in this part of the world, as the test moves on it tends to get harder to bat. It tends to take a little bit more turn and a bit more variable bounce. Looking back, we just needed a couple of partnerships.”
Southee and Ish Sodhi registered the highest stand of the second innings, as the latter mounted a stout defence while the former attacked to surpass West Indies great Sir Viv Richards with the 85th six of his test career.
Aside from their 46-run partnership from 52 balls, no pair produced more than 30 runs, while in the first innings Kane Williamson never enjoyed sufficient support while scoring his 29th test century.
Of the top six, only Williamson and Mitchell managed to withstand ample pressure, as Tom Latham, Devon Conway, Henry Nicholls and Tom Blundell combined for 88 runs in eight innings.
Southee found no specific fault to explain that lack of production, putting onus on the individual to quickly discover an answer for Taijul and his teammates ahead of the second and final test, starting on Wednesday in Dhaka.
“It comes down to the nature of the player — you look at Kane Williamson and he likes to absorb pressure in a different way to someone like Daryl Mitchell. So I think it’s about trusting your own style and your own way of going about it.”
Mitchell resumed today unbeaten on 44 and, requiring 219 runs to complete what would have been a record chase, immediately showed intent by coming down the track and smacking Taijul down the ground from the third ball of the morning.
But after posting his ninth test half-century, Mitchell swept Nayeem Hasan to backward square, where Taijul took the catch to quash an unlikely resurgence.
Southee joined Sodhi and launched a few lofty blows in a 24-ball cameo, but the inevitable arrived when Taijul removed Southee and ended the staunch resistance of Sodhi (22 off 91) before lunch.
This article was first published on nzherald.co.nz and is republished here with permission
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