Tigers make it a match
Bangladesh turned the 'two-day' second and final Test against New Zealand into a contest after losing three unnecessary wickets late yesterday.
After rain washed out the first three days, it was expected that the remaining two days would be academic at best but Bangladesh ended the day on a disastrous 13 for three under fading light at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium, after the visitors declared their first innings at 262 for six.
In the tenth over, opener Zunaed Siddiqui charged down the wicket, missed Daniel Vettori's first delivery and although there was a momentary lapse from wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum, Zunaed made a futile attempt to get back and was caught short by the Black Caps stumper for four.
When all expected a nightwatchman or even a word into the umpires' ear for bad light, in walked Mohammad Ashraful and his dismissal to the New Zealand skipper was inevitable. Second delivery, the Bangladesh captain put pad first and was plumb in front as the hosts began to slip into the quagmire. And it got worse when Rajin Saleh, Bangladesh's chosen number three for the series, suffered Ashraful's fate three balls later, also for a duck.
It took another four deliveries from Jeetan Patel for the batsmen to ask for bad light, and play was duly called off with eight balls remaining in the day. Opener Tamim Iqbal was unbeaten on eight while Mehrab Hossain was yet to face a delivery.
The Tigers now have to score at least 163 as the laws for interrupted Test matches state that the follow-on score goes down to 100 runs if no play takes place in the first three days of the match.
The middle and lower orders again have to salvage the innings and put Bangladesh in a position of safety after the last ten minutes of reckless batting jeopardised the good name earned in the ongoing series.
The day itself began promisingly after sun shone on the Mirpur ground after three days of continuous rain across the country.
And it got even better when Mashrafe Bin Mortaza found Aaron Redmond, shouldering arms, leg-before in the third over on a pitch that provided movement and gave a peculiar mirror-like reflection.
Next over, debutant Mahbubul Alam produced a superb delivery to clean bowl Jamie How as the tall Faridpur-born paceman picked up his first Test wicket off his seventh delivery. Ross Taylor was cleaned up by Shahadat Hossain after the stylish right-hander also shouldered arms in the 20th over.
McCullum and Jesse Ryder rode out a few anxious moments but latched on to the spinners as the two added 137 for the fourth wicket. Left-handed Ryder struck a dozen boundaries on his way to what would have been his maiden hundred but fell nine runs short when he top-edged Abdul Razzak to short-fine leg, falling for 91 off 140 balls. Ryder played both spin and pace with aplomb but later regretted giving away the wicket.
McCullum followed soon after, skying Shakib Al Hasan for 66 off 122 deliveries that had eight boundaries and a pulled six off Mehrab Hossain. Ashraful removed his opposite number as the Kiwi skipper smashed a six and two boundaries in his enterprising 22 off 24 balls.
When Vettori sportingly declared the innings on 262 for six after 75 overs, Daniel Flynn had eked out 35 off 81 balls and Grant Elliott, replacing Jacob Oram, was at the crease.
For Bangladesh, Mashrafe, Mahbubul, Razzak, Shahadat, Shakib and Ashraful all took a wicket each and had there been no madness in the last ten minutes, this would have been a simpler day.