- Publish Date
- Saturday, 9 December 2023, 9:08AM
By Kris Shannon
With much focus on Rachin Ravindra’s continuing omission, another dynamic batter is using this tour to solidify his own spot in the test team.
Glenn Phillips cracked a new high score on the third day of the second test against Bangladesh, lifting the Black Caps to an unlikely first-innings lead and improving their prospects of saving the series.
After 15 wickets fell on the opening day and rain washed out the next four sessions, the stuttering tourists resumed today on 55-5 in Dhaka, in danger of suffering a historic test series loss to Bangladesh.
But having been repeatedly forced on the defensive by the hosts’ spinners, Phillips opted for attack.
His 72-ball blitz of 87 helped New Zealand eke ahead by eight runs before they were dismissed for 172. Ajaz Patel and Tim Southee then reduced Bangladesh to 38-2 when bad light curtailed play, an intriguing weekend set up by Phillips’ barrage.
Made to wait almost four years for another test cap following his debut, the short-form specialist has shown during this tour that his skillset now transfers well to the red-ball game.
Phillips has toiled diligently in the nets to refine his offbreak since his bow against Australia in January 2020, transforming himself into a wicket-taking option on turning tracks. But while that burgeoning quality did bring about his recall, it’s clean hitting that could have him become a fixture in the side.
His prodigious talent with the bat, long clear in particularly Twenty20 cricket, lit up another overcast day in the Bangladeshi capital, brightening a murky situation for the Black Caps.
Phillips began on five with a few nervy moments, his bat beaten like many teammates before. But where they soon succumbed to the pressure applied by Taijul Islam and Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Phillips flipped the equation one emphatic swing at a time.
The 27-year-old signalled his intention by dispatching Mehidy for three quick fours, then with two men on the boundary slogged the spinner over the fielders and clear of the square-leg fence.
Bangladesh responded to that aggression by introducing Nayeem Hasan — and Phillips welcomed his offbreak by launching another six to the same area.
The spinners started to stray in their lengths and, although Daryl Mitchell departed while attempting to replicate his partner’s approach, Phillips smacked his third six of the day to race to 50 from only 38 deliveries.
It was his second half-century in tests, having raised his bat on debut, and the deficit rapidly diminished as Kyle Jamieson provided a good foil, following a brief stay from Mitchell Santner that reduced the tourists to 97-7.
The pair put on an innings-best 55-run stand from 53 balls for the eighth wicket, before Jamieson exited after adding 20 quick runs. Southee needed no invitation to follow Phillips’ lead, immediately clubbing Mehidy over the rope as the Black Caps sneaked ahead.
It was almost an ideal session despite the tumbling wickets — racking up 125 runs in 25 overs — but Phillips soon nicked behind off Shoriful Islam to be denied the ton his efforts deserved.
He shouldn’t have long to wait for another chance at a maiden century. Having snared eight wickets so far in the series, Phillips appeals as an optimal No 7 on green tracks at home, a role of sole spinner that Santner has filled and Michael Bracewell held last summer.
With Bracewell recovering from a torn Achilles, Phillips will be eyeing test series against South Africa and Australia early next year, potentially leaving Ravindra to wait for his chance.
This article was first published on nzherald.co.nz and is republished here with permission
Take your Radio, Podcasts and Music with you