Chittagong: Sohag Gazi’s maiden century had left the first Test in Chittagong nicely poised, but a passing shower drastically diminished chances of a result and New Zealand’s caution in their second innings, on a pitch that hardly turned, increased that probability.
Chittagong is within 600 km of the predicted path of Cyclone Phailin, which is expected to make landfall on the east coast of India on Saturday evening, and the 20-minute shower in the third session forced an early halt to play. There was more rain forecast in Chittagong on Sunday.
Before the weather took a turn for the worse, however, it was Bangladesh’s No. 8 Sohag Gazi who had the most impact on the play. Resuming on 28, Gazi brought out his favourite shots. The hard-hit cover drive, the upper cut and the late cut were eye catching but the slogs through midwicket and bludgeons down the ground were what demoralized the New Zealand attack.
Doug Bracewell was cut over the wicketkeeper’s head and then slammed over midwicket for Gazi’s first six, as he reached his fifty off 94 balls. Gazi was also severe on the spinners, he charged slow left-armer Bruce Martin and hit him over his head for his second six. The third came off part-time offspinner Kane Williamson and gave Bangladesh’s lead in the 140th over. Bangladesh went to lunch on 491 for 8, having scored 111 runs in the session, for the loss of only Abdur Razzak.
Robiul Islam fell in the first over after the interval, leaving Gazi on 98 with only No. 11 Rubel Hossain for company. There was no need for nerves though as Gazi cut a short ball over gully to record his maiden Test century. He celebrated gleefully by pumping his fists, as the home side continued to dominate in the early part of the second session.
Bangladesh were eventually bowled out for 501 in the 149th over with a 32-run lead – the first time in five attempts that Bangladesh have overtaken New Zealand after batting second.
Gazi’s innings wasn’t shot-a-minute as one might expect from a batsman who has the country’s fastest first-class hundred. He left many balls outside off stump, though he had two reprieves – both caught-and-bowled chances of varying difficulty. Martin spilled a sitter, but Trent Boult’s one-handed attempt was harder.
Gazi finished with ten fours and three sixes, adding 105 runs with No. 10 Robiul, who also made his highest score of 33. Bracewell took three wickets while Boult, Corey Anderson and Ish Sodhi took two each.
New Zealand’s reply wasn’t too cautious to begin with, as Hamish Rutherford made a rapid 32 off 45 balls. But when he fell lbw to Nasir Hossain in the 16th over, Peter Fulton and Kane Williamson became more circumspect, as they slowly added 69 in an unbroken second-wicket stand. The visitors led by 85 runs, but they have to take a more positive approach for a result, weather permitting.
New Zealand 469 and 117 for 1 lead Bangladesh 501 (Mominul 181, Gazi 101*) by 85 runs