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7 January 2022

World Test champs bounce back in Christchurch

Saturday 8 January 2022 | Written by Rahul Patil | Published in Cricket, Sports

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World Test champs bounce back in Christchurch

After the shock defeat in Mount Maunganui the blackcaps had to win the second test in Christchurch to square the series and they made a great start on day one thanks to a magnificent unbeaten hundred by captain Tom Latham. Report by Rahul Patil from The Hagley Oval in Christchurch NZ.

Day 1 - New Zealand 1st innings (Latham 186*, Young 54, Conway99*, Shoriful 1/50) vs Bangladesh.

There is always something special about the first day of a test match. How will the weather be? What’s the pitch going to be like? Who will win the toss? What will the team compositions be? These are some of the questions in every fan’s mind. Day one at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch was a stunning day for cricket. Blue and white skies, a high of 29 degrees with a light breeze. The pitch as expected was much greener than the one at the Bay Oval. There was a generous offering of live grass and the dark nature of the surface suggested the presence of moisture underneath i.e. perfect conditions to bowl first.

Bangladesh won their second toss of the series and had no hesitation in bowling first. They made two changes to their playing XI i.e. debutant opener Mohammad Naim and batter Nurul Hassan replacing the injured duo of Joy & Mushfiqur Rahim. Looking at the surface the blackcaps selected seam bowling all-rounder Darryl Mitchell instead of the spinning all-rounder Rachin Ravindra.

Bowling first on a green pitch is a big advantage but you still need to pitch the ball in good areas and be patient. The Bangladesh bowlers who were so effective in the last test fell into the trap of trying too hard to get a wicket. In their effort to make the new ball count they were guilty of either bowling too full or too short. The kiwi batters came out with a positive mindset and took full toll of the loose deliveries.

When Ebadot Hossain (The player of the match in the last test) was introduced into the attack his very first over was full of drama. He trapped Latham in front of his stumps of the secondand the fifth ball of the over. On both occasions the on field umpire Wayne Knights upheld Bangladesh’s appeal and gave Latham out. Lathan reviewed both the on field decisions and on both occasions DRS came to his rescue. The first one was missing leg and the second was going over the stumps.

Latham bought up his 50 (the fastest one of his career so far)before lunch and his knock was studded with 9 boundaries. Classy drives through the off side were the highlight of his innings. Will Young at the other end provided the right kind of stable support to the aggressive Latham and New Zealand reached lunch on day one at 92 without loss. 

In the hour after lunch the bowlers were a lot more disciplined but got no support from the fielders. Will Young was dropped at second slip of Ebadot’s bowling and to make matters worse there were 8 runs gifted to him via over throws within a short span of time. The Latham & Young combo soon brought up the team hundred and in reaching 122 for no loss set a new record for the first wicket partnership at the Hagley Oval.

Shoriful finally provided Bangladesh the much needed breakthrough by tempting Will Young to drive at a wide one outside off stump. Young who had just completed his fifty played well away from his body only to get a thick outside edge which was nabbed at point. Young departed for a patient 54 but couldn’t capitalize on the life he got earlier.

Centurion from the last game Devon Conway showed positive intent from the get go and kept the scoreboard moving as Latham approached his century. Latham whose last test hundred was in November 2019 brought up his 12th test century with a tuck of his pads to deep square leg. It was a captain’s innings at the top of the order which ensured that New Zealand made a statement after the shock upset of last week. Latham & Conway then ensured that the blackcaps reached Tea on day one at 202 for the loss of only one wicket. A dominating position and one from which they could potentially control the rest of the game.

As expected the blackcaps put their foot down on the accelerator after Tea. Without taking any risks 50 runs came in the first hour after Tea which included Tom Latham’s 150, the hundred of the Latham & Conway partnership and New Zealand’s 250. Bangladesh were just going through the motions while waiting for the 2nd new ball. Run machine Conway then bought up his own 50 and the pair then set a new record for the highest second wicket partnership at the Hagley Oval.

Bangladesh needed wickets desperately but after 80 overs when the second new ball was available they didn’t take it. One reason could be that they didn’t want to take it with two set batters at the crease but then they didn’t look like picking up wickets with the old ball either. They finally took the new ball in over number 85 but it didn’t stop the flow of runs and neither did it bring any wickets.

The blackcaps finished day one on a mammoth 349 for the loss of one wicket. Latham 186* and Conway 99* (wonder if he will get any sleep tonight) will resume their 201 run unbeaten partnership tomorrow morning. Shoriful picked up the only wicket to fall on the day. Bangladesh will try to forget this day as fast as possible and have to pick up quick wickets tomorrow morning. New Zealand on the other hand will look to bat once and bat big in this test match.