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27 February 2024

New Zealand strike back at Bangladesh


New Zealand stormed back into the first Test against Bangladesh Sunday, with three quick wickets to back up a Tom Latham century and set the stage for an intriguing final day in Wellington.

After being on the back foot for most of the first four days, New Zealand were boosted by reducing Bangladesh to 66-3 in their second innings, at 122 by stumps.

'Funny things can happen on that last day as it did against Pakistan in that last series,' Latham said, referring to the dramatic finish to the November Test when New Zealand took nine wickets in the final session to beat Pakistan.

Bangladesh were also sweating over Imrul Kayes, who was injured on 24 and taken to hospital for hip x-rays.

Captain Mushfiqur Rahim, unable to field because of an injured hand, was confirmed as being available to bat if required.

Bangladesh have never beaten New Zealand and pace bowler Taskin Ahmed said their chances of a breakthrough victory were damaged with the loss of three wickets in the last five overs on Sunday.

Bangladesh had been hoping to declare on Monday in time to give New Zealand a challenging target, but Taskin said that may change.

'It depends on the situation. Obviously we are looking for a win but it depends. It's a pretty flat wicket and when the batsmen get set it's easy to score.'

A short-pitched barrage by the Bangladesh quicks and poor shot selection against part-time spinner Mahmudullah stopped the New Zealand first innings at 539.

The tourists built on the 56-run lead to be 66 for three at stumps in their second innings with Mominul Haque not out on 10 and Tamim Iqbal out for 25.

After New Zealand resumed the fourth day at 292 for three, opener Latham batted on to 177 to ensure the follow-on mark was comfortably passed.

BJ Watling (49) and Mitchell Santner (73) reduced the deficit to less than 100, with Santner and Trent Boult (4 not out) frustrating Bangladesh with a 35-run partnership for the final wicket.

Santner lofted Shakib Al Hasan over the long-on boundary for six, his third of the innings, to overtake his previous best 71 against India at Kanpur four months ago.

Bouncer barrage

Bangladesh tried to rattle the New Zealand tail with short balls. Santner took one fierce blow to the head from Taskin Ahmed and Neil Wagner was hit three times by Kamrul Islam drawing blood from his chin.

Wagner, New Zealand's short-ball specialist, passed a concussion test and replaced his helmet after the third blow only to be dismissed two balls later for 18.

Despite the pace barrage, it was part-time spinner Mahmudullah who broke through the Watling-Santner partnership.

The pair put on 73 after Latham's dismissal to reach 471 for six when Mahmudullah came into the attack and the innings was all over 68 runs later.

Mahmudullah's first ball was short-pitched and well off-line which Watling went to smack to the boundary only to scoop it into the hands of wicketkeeper Imrul down the leg side.

With his fifth ball, Mahmudullah had Tim Southee trapped in front for one.

Wagner was caught behind trying to hook his way out of Kamrul's bouncer onslaught to give Imrul his fifth catch, a Test record for a substitute wicketkeeper.

Latham, who spent 463 minutes at the crease, was trapped in front for 177 by Shakib Al Hasan.