Just like the last three Tests at the Basin Reserve, the side bowling first was expected to take the upper hand but New Zealand couldn’t quite knock off Bangladesh on the first day. Instead, the visitors fought through a rain-interrupted day to end it on a respectable 154 for 3, having lost maybe one wicket more than they would have liked.
New Zealand were sent in to bat in the three previous Tests at this venue, and were bowled out for 192, 221 and 183 by India, Sri Lanka and Australia respectively. They fought back admirably in the first two of those Tests, going on to beat Sri Lanka, but lost by an innings in their last game here.
Kane Williamson’s decision to bowl first upon winning the toss, therefore, was predictable.
Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Neil Wagner took a wicket each in the 40.2 overs possible on the first day, but didn’t make life as hard for Bangladesh’s batsmen as they may have hoped to. There were enough maidens but the batsmen were comfortable leaving deliveries outside off stump. Some swung back but only after they had passed the stumps. Only Wagner conceded less than three runs an over while the other three New Zealand bowlers went at more than four an over.
Southee began well but, like the others, found it difficult thereafter with frequent rain breaks and the challenge of running in with wind swirling from all directions.
Wagner, who removed Mahmudullah to give the home side some reward at the end of the day, said the bowlers hadn’t put enough pressure on the visitors, and had given them too many boundary balls.
“I think today was Bangladesh’s day,” Wagner said. “I think we pride ourselves as a bowling unit to use those conditions. I think we didn’t bowl well in partnerships for a long period today. We missed a little bit and we got hurt. I think Tamim [Iqbal] batted really well. They showed a lot of intent and came out positive to put the bad ball away. It obviously put us on the back foot. We never really settled into a rhythm and into an area because of the way they batted.”
Tamim Iqbal gave Bangladesh a bright start, racing away to 56 off 50 balls, and Mominul Haque took over thereafter to end the day batting on 64 and with an average of 220 against New Zealand. Wagner said there was enough help in the pitch had New Zealand’s quicks been more disciplined.
“It was definitely [going to be] bowl first [after winning the toss],” Wagner said. “You never know which way the weather is going to go. It was a collective decision to bowl first. If we had bowled in the right areas for a long period of time, we would have known there was enough for us.
“I don’t think much has changed from the last time I played [Mominul] in Dhaka a few years ago. He is a pretty good batter and he showed a lot of patience. He showed a lot of fight. He never really gave a chance and he left the balls well. He obviously loves batting against us so we have to come hard at him tomorrow.”
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84