'We got it wrong' says Neil Wagner as buffeted Black Caps bowlers regroup
A frustrated New Zealand bowling attack blew their big chance in the Wellington gale as Bangladesh counter-punched and took a points decision on day one of the first cricket test.
Now the buffeted Black Caps need to regroup for a big morning's effort on a calmer Friday to quell the tourists who showed admirable fight and discipline to reach 154-3 at stumps.
There was no question New Zealand would bowl first after Kane Williamson won the toss, but in a tick over three hours of play the quicks extracted little from the soft, green sward and the ball never swung. The gusts recorded at up to 137kmh in the city and forced camera operators down from their scaffolding at the southern end provided some excuse.
Last February the hosts lasted just 48 overs after being sent in by Australia at the Basin Reserve; now a decent scrap looms after Bangladesh reached the 41st over before stumps in the gloom. Their mini-destroyer Mominul Haque, all 161cm of him, was unbeaten on 64 and averages a staggering 220 against New Zealand in tests.
"Today is Bangladesh's day. We pride ourselves as a bowling unit to use those conditions as best we can and bowl in partnerships and put the ball in the right areas for long periods. We missed a little bit and we got hurt," said Neil Wagner, who added some late energy and snared the important scalp of Mahmudullah for 26.
"Tamim [Iqbal] batted really well and all the Bangladeshis batted well. They showed a lot of intent and they put the bad ball away which put us on the back foot. We never really settled into a rhythm."
Wagner felt there was enough in the pitch for them to exploit when they got it right.
The new ball duo Trent Boult and Tim Southee were again a mixed bag. Boult was savaged by Tamim (56 off 50) early on then finished well with a hint of reverse swing. Southee was the pick in the opening stanzas but suffered late as both went at four an over on a true, if slightly sluggish pitch that may quicken up.
It was tough viewing as gusts rattled the Vance Stand and rain swept across the outfield. Batsmen backed away, bowlers lost their run-ups and hats went flying.
But it certainly wasn't the expected one-way traffic and Bangladesh's batsmen fought instead of folded - as they'd done in five heavy test defeats in New Zealand.
Tamim averaged 39 in six Twenty20 matches for Wellington in 2012-13 but quipped that hardly prepared him for what he walked into.
The pitch was far greener than he'd seen and the wind felt like he was being shoved by the shirt.
"There was something on the wicket but we put the bad balls away. I thought if Mahmudullah was there at the end it would be the ideal day for us. We played very well," said Tamim.
"We're happy [with 154-3]. History says something else. That first innings is really difficult on this wicket and not too many runs have been scored by best of teams. We handled them well."
Tamim, a top quality player who often leaves home fans wanting more, got things rolling after opening partner Imrul Kayes fell for the leg side trap.
Ball tracking technology again proved baffling, giving Tamim a let-off then ending his innings lbw to Boult. On 31, Colin de Grandhomme looked to have him dead in front but New Zealand's challenge was struck down when ball tracker showed the ball bouncing over. From side on it never looked to be too high, and the wind may have interfered with the reading.
Then on 56 a shout from Boult that looked to be high was given on review. Another head-scratcher and more big questionmarks over ball tracker's accuracy.
Mominul, 25 and barely over stump height, backed up scores of 181, 22 not out, 47 and 126 not out from the 2013 home series against New Zealand with another quality knock. His three boundaries in one Boult over were high class, all around the wicket, he left well and picked off the bowlers when they strayed. A bouncer barrage surely awaits on day two, for the man who arrived with an average of 52 from 19 tests.
"We are fighters and we'll come back fighting and know we can put the ball in the right area. If we do you never know what we'll get out of the wicket. There's still enough in there," Wagner said.
"We'll assess conditions and start really positive and aggressive and put the squeeze back on them. If we get two quick wickets it changes quickly and that could set up the game."