Till a few years ago, New Zealand were rather easy to beat on the sub-continent. For that matter, even Bangladesh whitewashed them in an ODI series at home a few years ago. But, the present Kiwi outfit undoubtedly possesses different mettle. After out-thinking India, Australia and Pakistan, they literally toyed with Bangladesh on a pitch that was difficult to bat on. Having won the toss, the Kiwis put on a competitive 145, and were restricted courtesy a five-for from Mustafizur Rahman. But, Bangladesh’s batting crumbled to 70 all out, with Ish Sodhi and Grant Elliot running through the middle and lower order.
Chasing 146 on this surface was akin to 180 on a batting pitch. And, following the heart-skipping loss against India, it seemed Bangladesh did not have a lot of energy left in the tank. Their listless batting effort seemed to suggest so. Bangladesh were dealt with an early blow as their key batsmen Tamim Iqbal got run out for 3, a direct hit from Colin Munro finding him short, as Iqbal and Mohammad Mithun hesitated going for a quick single. Apart a couple of fours in the fifth over, the runs weren’t coming for Bangladesh, and it forced Mithun to have a slog at Mitchell McClenaghan, only to find his off-stump taking a hit.
The spinners then took over and broke Bangladesh’s spirit while Elliot also helped himself to three wickets. Mitchell Santner, who was the star performer against India, got the big scalp of Shakib Al Hasan, having him caught at wide long-on while Nathan McCullum chipped in by getting Sabbir Rahman, also caught in the deep. Sodhi then dragged Soumya Sarkar out of his crease to have him stumped, and leaving Bangladesh reeling at 43 for 5. He cleaned up Mahmudullah with a googly, and finished off the match by cleaning up Al-Amin Hossain. At the other end, Elliot bowled Mushfiqur Rahim with a legcutter, and proceeded to add the scalps of Mashrafe Mortaza and Mustafizur.
New Zealand themselves did not have it easy, but they read the conditions well, and knew that anything close to 150 would be tough to chase down. That they rested Martin Guptill made things tougher for them. Henry Nicholls, opening in his place, found the conditions difficult, and was bowled by Mustafizur with a slow legcutter. The trio of Kane Williamson, Munro and Ross Taylor however brought their experience into play, and enabled the Kiwis to fight the challenging conditions. Williamson displayed his quality, lofting Shakib for a four over the infield, and a six over long on in the same over. Munro and Taylor were happy picking the gaps, and rotating the strike.
Mustafizur got through the defence of Williamson when on 42, with a smart off cutter, and a period of struggle began for the Kiwis. Munro smashed two sixes in three balls, but was cleaned up by Al-Amin looking for another big one. Another bowled followed as Corey Anderson failed to read a slower one from Mortaza. Taylor found a couple of boundaries at the other end, before perishing to a full toss from Al-Amin in the deep. Mustafizur came back to take out Elliot, Santner and McCullum. On a tough surface though, New Zealand’s 145 proved to be more than a handful.
--By A Cricket Correspondent