Devon Conway of New Zealand plays a shot while batting during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup semi-final match between England and New Zealand at Sheikh Zayed stadium on November 10, 2021 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. He played an instrumental role against Bangladesh on day one. (Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)
Day 1 - New Zealand 258/5 (Devon Conway 122, Will Young 52, Henry Nicholls 32*, )
By RAHUL PATIL in Tauranga, New Zealand
Before the start of this series there were a few COVID19 related dark clouds hanging over it but on new year’s day the test series got underway in picture perfect conditions in Mount Maunganui. Without a cloud in the sky and temperatures reaching as high as 29 degrees it was a stunning day for test cricket.
New Zealand’s formula at home is pretty simple. Prepare green seaming wickets that assist swing bowling and pack their side with 4 fast bowlers that are extremely potent in home conditions. This time by not picking a frontline spinner in their squad of 15 New Zealand gave a good indication of the kind of surfaces to expect for this series.
On a greenish pitch the Bangladeshi captain Mominul Haque had no hesitation in batting first. And for the first hour his fast bowlers made it look like an excellent decision. Left arm seamer Shoriful Islam got the wicket of New Zealand’s captain Tom Latham with an excellent delivery that drew him forward, swung late, found the edge and Liton Das the wicketkeeper caught an exceptional catch.
The wicket was followed by some disciplined bowling by all the Bangladeshi bowlers. Only 2 runs came in the first 9 overs and at the end of the first hour New Zealand were 15/1 of 13 overs. But Will Young and Devon Conway were ready to play the waiting game. They gave the first hour to the bowlers and as the sun kept beating down and the pitch became flatter batting started to get a lot easier.
New Zealand were definitely the happier team going into lunch at 66/1 as the Bangladeshi’s would have liked a couple more wickets for their efforts.
Conway must have had a good lunch as he came out his usual aggressive self and started punishing all the bowlers. He got to his 50 with a huge six over midwicket of the spinner Mehidy and followed it up with a couple of boundaries in the same over.
Will Young on the other hand struggled to get going and although he too reached his fifty he never looked comfortable at the crease. Just when it looked like Will and Conway were slowly pounding Bangladesh into submission a needless run out ended the 138 run partnership.
Will Young tried to steal a non-existent single, Conway promptly refused and sent him back but Young failed to make his ground by millimeters and was dismissed for a scratchy 52.
Ross Taylor walked in to a standing ovation from a vocal Mount Maunganui crowd. Taylor who a couple of days back announced his retirement from all forms of cricket at the end of New Zealand’s summer of cricket has a huge fan following all over New Zealand. He and Conway put on 50 for the 3rd wicket during which Conway bought up his 2nd test hundred.
It was a classy, chanceless innings and with the start that he has had in international cricket New Zealand’s top order looks in safe hands. Taylor on the other hand treated the crowd to some signature Ross Taylor square drives before being caught at cover for 31 trying to hit another one on the up of Shoriful.
Before the 2nd new ball was available captain Mominul decided to bring himself on (slow left arm spin) to give his fast bowlers a rest and to his own surprise picked up the prized scalp of Conway who tickled one down leg side to be well caught by the keeper Liton Das. It was Conway’s only mistake in making 122 of 227 deliveries but he had to pay the price for it.
The flashy Henry Nicholls riding his luck and wicket keeper Tom Blundell had a few nervous moments against the 2nd new ball and in what turned out to be the last ball of the day Blundell played one onto his stumps. The blackcaps finished day one on 258 for 5.
Blundell hasn’t been in good red ball form this season for Wellington and he had a pretty average tour of India with the bat. By bowling economically Bangladesh have still kept themselves in the game but they will need to pick up early wickets on day 2 with a ball that is still new. With runs on the board New Zealand are slightly ahead at stumps on day one.