How's that! Cumming cements opening spot

Last updated 00:00 01/01/2009

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Craig Cumming booked his spot to play England and Mathew Sinclair will try to join him today when the second cricket test against Bangladesh continues at the Basin Reserve in Wellington.

On another dreadfully one-sided day, Cumming made a pressure-relieving 42 to see off the challenge of Jamie How while Sinclair negotiated the final seven overs and will resume this morning on nine.

Scott Styris is breathing down Sinclair's neck for the No 5 spot against the Poms but the Central Districts run machine can end all debate with a substantial knock against a touring side that bowls better than it bats.

Bangladesh block-slogged to 143 in 45.3 overs after being put into bat and New Zealand moved watchfully through to 134-3 at the close with Stephen Fleming unbeaten on 39.

Cumming said New Zealand were pleased with their performance in front of a first day crowd of 4082 and are now setting themselves for a marathon batting effort.

He was pleased to get runs after a double failure in the first test but there was obvious frustration at getting out late in the day. "Battle is a good word to describe it and I'm disappointed not to be taking the pads off tonight and starting again tomorrow," Cumming said.

"It's disappointing, but I know I gave it my best today, I worked damn hard."

Cumming fell leg before wicket for the third time in the series and the 10th in 17 test innings but he brushed off concerns, saying it was after 150 minutes at the crease and against a left-arm spinner, Shakib Al Hasan, as opposed to a pace bowler early in the innings.

"There has been a fair but mentioned about it and that creates a bit of uncertainty in yourself but it's different way of getting out lbw. Today hurts because of the nature of it, because I was working so hard to get through to the end of the day."

Like Sinclair, Fleming has much to play for. The Basin is both his home ground and his favourite but in 16 tests here he has never scored a hundred. He has just this innings and, presumably, a match against England to do so.

Last summer he breezed through to 97 against the West Indies before being caught on the backward point boundary but this time he looks like a man on a mission.

He left balls alone that on other days he might have scorched through the covers and instead took the bulk of his runs with horizontal bat shots.

The feature of New Zealand's bowling effort was a five wicket bag by Chris Martin, which lifted his career tally to 123 and a share of sixth on the test wicket charts with another roll up your sleeves-type performance in the Ewen Chatfield vein.

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Four of Martin's victims fell to catches behind the wicket and the other was a successful leg before wicket appeal first ball after lunch against Mushfiqur Rahmin. It was a two-man effort with the ball, Martin steaming down wind and Iain O'Brien justifying his inclusion with acareer best 3-34 from 15 overs.

One of those he should hand back though, after English umpire Nigel Llong adjudged Mohammad Ashraful caught at the wicket when the ball missed his bat by some distance. It has been a bad week for the white coats and Llong capped off his disappointing day with a howler against New Zealand opener Matthew Bell.

The less said about Bangladesh's batting effort the better. Their longest partnership lasted just 8.3 overs when Aftab Ahmed and Shakib added 34 for the seventh wicket.

- Sunday Star Times

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