CHRISTCHURCH: Rookie opener Soumya Sarkar led a makeshift Bangladesh to a competitive 289 but New Zealand claimed the honours on day one of the second Test in Christchurch on Friday.
“If you can bowl a side out on day one it’s a good effort,” New Zealand strike bowler Tim Southee said after taking his sixth five-wicket haul.
But, despite removing two of the more experienced Bangladesh batsmen in the first 11 overs, it took New Zealand until the last over to end the innings of an injury-hit side with seven players having three or fewer Tests to their name.
“We were pretty good at the start then they got a bit of a partnership going,” Southee said.
“We knew if we could hang in our areas for a long period of time then it was our best chance of taking wickets.
“So once we got that right we looked more effective.”
After being put into bat on a standard New Zealand green surface, Bangladesh were ready to punish anything short or wide on a pitch which offered swing but not extreme pace.
Their willingness to search for runs resulted in early casualties when senior batsmen Tamin Iqbal (five) and Mahmudullah (19) were removed inside 11 overs to be 38-2.
Shakib Al Hasan mounted a sterling fightback producing a rapid 127 with Soumya who celebrated his return to Test cricket and maiden innings as an opener with 86 off 104 balls.
In his previous three Tests in 2015, Soumya had batted at six or seven with a best score of 37, yet he felt he could have done better as an opener against New Zealand.
“I am not satisfied with my effort,” he said.
“The focus was on playing a big innings in my first time as a Test opener. It was a big opportunity for me so if I had made a bigger contribution, I would have felt better.
“Shakib and I tried to lengthen the innings after two early wickets. After I got out we lost two more wickets which put us on the back-foot. If we had handled that period better, we could have been in a better position.”
Soumya’s recall and elevation to opener came as injuries kept Imrul Kayes, Mushfiqur Rahim, and Mominul Haque, and a combined 98 Tests worth of experience, out of the match.
In their place were Soumya for his fourth Test and debutants Nurul Hasan and 18-year-old Nazmul Hossain with the fledgling trio all featuring well in the innings.
Soumya brought up his 50 driving Colin de Grandhomme to the boundary and had a life on 52 when dropped off the same bowler in the first of four missed chances by New Zealand.
– Rescue Mission –
Trent Boult claimed Soumya’s wicket after lunch to start a New Zealand counter-attack which produced three wickets for 14 runs in 16 deliveries to have Bangladesh at 179-5.
He removed Sabbir Rahman for seven while Shakib, coming off a double century and a duck in the first Test, reached 59 before he fell to Southee.
Test newcomers Nurul and Nazmul then mounted the second rescue mission as they defied New Zealand’s established bowling line-up with a 53-run partnership.
Nazmul departed for 18 while Nurul batted for nearly three hours to make 47 after being dropped on two and 36 while an edge on 25 went between first and second slip.
Rubel Hossain, who was struck on the helmet grille and the elbow of his bowling arm, was not out 16 at the close.
Southee finished with five for 94 while Boult took four for 87.