Saturday, 5 January 2008
University Oval, Dunedin, New Zealand
Today cricketing history was made at the University oval in Dunedin, once a lake, once a great athletic ground in summer, rugby ground in winter and to all Otago primary school children, a venue to have our annual provincial athletic championships. It's a ground I have played 1st grade rugby on, broke athletic records, trained daily for six year, and under the old stand, courted pretty lasses at dances held tere by Otago university.
So what happened
Well, New Zealand the country I was born in, played Bangladesh the country I lived in for a number of years, and I was hoping Bangladesh would push the Black Caps hard. They looked good on the second day, but crumbled.
Still, the Univeristy Oval , which hosted the 1926 South Seas Exhibition, showed it is now a a respectable cricket ground. What more can you expect from a lake ?
New Zealand stormed back from an indifferent second day to dismiss a submissive Bangladesh for 254 and wrapped up a nine-wicket win before tea on day three at Dunedin's University Oval. A four-pronged seam attack turned the Test quickly in the first session, grabbing the opposition by the scruff of the neck after a 161-run opening stand, before Daniel Vettori mopped up the tail quickly after lunch. With Tamim Iqbal and Junaid Siddique dismissed in succession it all fell apart in the second innings rather spectacularly for Bangladesh, who lost ten wickets for 93 runs to hand the hosts a series lead with one to play.
If the batsmen did this pitch some justice on day two, with 349 runs, then the seamers struck quickly to level the contest. The pitch played a little slow and low yet the ball moved around enough to put some doubt in the batsmen's' minds. The seamers were tidy, rarely slipping down leg side with a packed off-side field, and responded to their captain's call with five wickets in the first session.
As thoughts trained towards Bangladesh's highest partnership for any wicket and a debut hundred for Tamim, Kyle Mills struck. The ball nipped back in off a perfect length, kept a little low, and drew an inside-edge from his bat. The look of relief on the fielders' faces was palpable.
As often happens when one dominant partner departs, the second followed. The ball looked about ready to reverse-swing late on day three and Chris Martin achieved a hint of it, operating from around the stumps. Siddique failed to keep one down and edged to a sharp Stephen Fleming in the slips for 74. Bangladesh were still 53 behind at that stage but with the openers removed the tone of the innings changed dramatically.
If they'd done wonderfully to launch an opening platform like that then equally disappointing was how quickly the side pressed the detonation button. Habibul Bashar endured another poor score, tamely cutting Jacob Oram to gully for 11; Mohammad Ashraful was due for some runs but made just 23 before he chased one straight to Craig Cumming at backward point; it got worse, as Aftab Ahmed bagged a pair, producing a shot to beat Ashraful's minutes before lunch. Iain O'Brien's double-strike atoned for a costly fielding lapse - he dropped Tamim on eight in the second session yesterday - and brought his bowling average down to 64.00. Brendon McCullum's constant chirp of "five for 200 at lunch, boys" turned out to be very accurate.
There wasn't much turn or bounce in the track but Daniel Vettori backed himself after the interval. He struck twice in one over, picking up Mushfiqur Rahim and a trigger-happy Mashrafe Mortaza, and later ended a relatively solid innings from Shahriar Nafees (28 from 82 balls) with a clever arm ball and handed Shahadat Hossain a pair as well. With Bangladesh 254 for 9 Vettori beckoned for Martin, wrecker-in-chief on day one, and he finished the innings with a smart bouncer.
Set 35 to win, New Zealand knocked off the target with one casualty, Craig Cumming failing again, to complete trouncing of a side they've dominated all tour. This win, their first in over a year, included a fairytale century from comeback man Matthew Bell - the first by a New Zealand opener in 22 Tests - and its from such positives that the side must build.
Conversely, Bangladesh have plenty to ponder after folding so meekly on the third day, especially after the debut openers led a most stirring resurgence on day two.