Bangladesh ended day three of the first Test match against New Zealand at Sylhet with a 205-run lead, thanks mainly to the batting of their captain Najmul Hossain Shanto who scored his fifth Test hundred.
Stand-in skipper Shanto (104no) led the steady charge and helped a side missing four key players head to stumps last night on 212-3.
Nine wickets fell during each of the first two days on what had appeared a tricky pitch in Sylhet, but yesterday the Black Caps bowlers collected a solitary scalp during 68 arduous overs.
Two run outs boosted the tourists’ cause — both of which owed to Bangladeshi misfortune — and a challenging fourth-innings chased loomed as the lead steadily ticked above 200.
The Black Caps came into this two-test series having won 13 of 17 tests against Bangladesh, three of the last four by an innings. But the outlier in that recent span was a historic eight-wicket triumph for the tourists in Mount Maunganui at the start of 2022, when New Zealand were thoroughly outplayed in their own conditions.
Facing their first test series in Bangladesh for a decade, Tim Southee and the selectors picked a spin-heavy group to suit turning tracks. But frontline tweakers Ajaz Patel and Ish Sodhi threatened only sporadically last night, and the batters’ more subdued approach against Glenn Phillips did exactly that to a fledgling allrounder who surprised with four wickets in the first innings.
Southee and Kyle Jamieson were economic but sparingly used and Bangladesh dictated the tempo throughout. That generally meant gradual accumulation but they counter-attacked well in a key period, as the day went just about according to plan.
Aside from the first hour, when Jamieson and Southee resumed on 266-8 and erased a 44-run deficit with ease before both fell in a four-ball span to part-timer Mominul Haque.
Dismissed for 317, the Black Caps saw their seven-run lead erased by the second over, turning to Patel in the fifth as he found some sharp turn. That promised to be a defining factor when he trapped Zakir Hasan in front, but that lethal delivery instead proved an aberration.
Mahmudul Hasan Joy negotiated the early period carefully before being carelessly — if unluckily — caught short at the non-striker’s end when Southee deflected Shanto’s drive onto the stumps.
But after losing their first-innings top-scorer, Shanto and Mominul put the pressure on their opponents, scoring freely off Patel as Southee turned to Phillips. The pair approached his offbreak with more caution on this occasion, stung by their day-one dismissals, and reached tea without issue on 111-2.
Shanto reached his half-century to begin the final session but was caught ball-watching as Mominul set off for quick single, Henry Nicholls running out the latter to end a 90-run partnership on a sour note.
But the first-time captain responded well to that setback and registered his fifth test ton just before stumps, ready to extend his side’s lead tomorrow alongside Mushfiqur Rahim — Bangladesh’s highest test run-scorer.
BDST: 1738 HRS, NOV 30, 2023