16 February 2010
Ian Whitchurch from Hamilton
There are tough days at the office, and this was one of them. New Zealand put on 336 for the sixth wicket, with Guptill and McCullum batting chancelessly till fatigue caused them to lose concentration. New Zealand finally declared on 553 for 7 after adding 195 runs to their overnight score.
The pitch was doing absolutely and utterly nothing, and the short boundaries and fast outfield helped, but the running between wickets and decision making as to what to do to each ball was simply magnificent.
That said, Bangladesh bowlers didn't bowl badly. Shaiful and Rubel were admirable in their effort and keeping it quick even when the score went over 500, and Shahadat bowled probably the spell of the day when he went around the wicket to a set leg-side trap. Sakib was accurate as usual, and Ashraful found turn and had at least one good shout.
However, the bowlers had the tendency to bowl too short too often which didn't help Bangladesh's cause. Too many bouncers went at head-height or higher rather than throat height, and Rubel was called more than once for wides from bouncers pitching halfway down the pitch.
The fielding was just okay; there were no out-and-out drops, but the brilliant running between the wickets by McCullum and Guptill was better than the throws of the Bangladesh fielders.
I was much less impressed by the way Sakib refused to support his bowlers with anything vaguely attacking once the runs went over 400 or so - I was particularily unimpressed by keeping a third man for Rubel and Shaiful when they were bowling well, beating the bat and lacking any support whatsoever in the slips.
Once Vettori declared, Tanim and Imrul played an excellent partnership for 79 runs, until Imrul edged a skidder from Vettori. Junaid then avoided getting himself out until bad light stopped play with the Tigers at 1-87.
There are runs in buckets in this pitch - frequently, a solidly hit defensive shot ran for four, and just about anything hit well will beat 2 fielders on the short boundaries. If the batsmen pick the balls to hit and keep the ball on the ground, there are 60 runs an hour out there. Bangladesh have begun to eat their way though the elephant quite well, and Martin, Tuffey and Southee all bowled loose deliveries that were deservedly hit for four.