Bangladesh 310-9 (Mahmudul Hasan Joy 86; Glenn Phillips 4-53, Kyle Jamieson 2-52, Ajaz Patel 2-76) versus New Zealand.
Glenn Phillips would have been a longshot pick to be New Zealand’s top wicket-taker in the first innings of the first test against Bangladesh.
But in just his second test – almost four years after making his debut in Sydney against Australia – the allrounder led the Black Caps’ attack with four wickets to hand an advantage to the visitors on day one in Sylhet.
Bangladesh had nine batters in double figures, but just one went past 37 as the New Zealand bowlers overcame some frustrating moments to have their rivals 310-9 when bad light brought a premature stumps.
Phillips was a surprise section to many over Rachin Ravindra – New Zealand’s standout performer at the one-day World Cup – to provide plenty of spin assistance to Ajaz Patel and Ish Sodhi and bat at No.6 or No.7.
But the offspinner gave the side a player to turn the ball away from Bangladesh’s left-handed batters – with three of them in their top five – instead of the left-arm spin of Ravindra.
Phillips grabbed a cheap maiden test wicket with a ball that didn’t even hit the deck. He had added two more before his attempted slide to stop a boundary saw his knee get stuck deep into the soft turf and initially raised an injury concern.
But the 26-year-old, knowing a five-wicket bag was a prospect, refused to be replaced by the 12th man and picked up one more scalp to end the day with 4-53 from 16 overs. It was his best bowling return in first-class cricket, with 4-70 his previous mark in taking just 40 wickets in 49 first-class appearances at an average of 41.40.
Just before tea on day one, New Zealand were reflecting on the little joy they’d had.
Bangladesh, in contrast, were full of it – opener Mahmudul Hasan Joy was working his way towards a test century that was poised to make matters complicated for the visitors.
But the dismissal of Joy just four balls after the fall of the third wicket enabled the Black Caps to emerge the happier side at stumps, despite the hosts riding their luck for much of the opening day of the two-test series.
After losing the toss and being told to field, New Zealand went to spin after just six overs, introducing Patel, who erred a little on length but did make the breakthrough by getting a short ball to turn a lot to bowl Zakir Hasan.
New Bangladesh captain Najmul Hossain Shanto played with intent from the outset, using his feet and hitting aerially at Patel.
At times it was like he was still at the World Cup – and Kane Williamson catching like he was too, with a replica of his backpedalling effort to dismiss Rohit Sharma in the semifinal against India to remove the skipper to the delight and embarrassment of Phillips.
Patel, Phillips and Ish Sodhi all bowled before lunch but weren’t able to settle into a consistent rhythm as the hosts tallied 46 runs from boundaries off the spinners – three sixes and seven fours – in the opening session.
The Bangladesh duo of Joy and Mominul Haque enjoyed a decent dose of good fortune for the majority of the second session, with snicks and mishits regularly just eluding the Black Caps fielders or the stumps.
But when it looked likely the bowlers may have to toil deep into day two, both set batters perished in the space of five balls, sparked by a sharp catch from wicketkeeper Tom Blundell to an underside edge from Mominul off Phillips, and wickets tumbled with useful regularity from then on.
Kyle Jamieson was chosen to play his first test in 17 months after recovering from the back problems that first struck during the second test against England last June.
Entrusted with the new ball - over the option of employing Neil Wagner as a potential troublemaker and workhorse with the old ball – the big seamer fully deserved his two scalps as he bothered all the batters with his bounce.
At times there was significant turn – which, while pleasing for the NZ spin trio, would have also been worrying to a side scheduled to bat last on a wicket which could break up under five days of sun.
The hosts opted to select just one quick bowler – left-armer Shoriful Islam – and will seek to exploit the conditions through three specialist spinners on day two.
For the Black Caps, batting once and batting big will be the aim.
BDST: 1736 HRS, NOV 28, 2023