A terrific 339-run sixth-wicket stand between Martin Guptill and Brendon McCullum put hosts New Zealand firmly in the driver's seat against Bangladesh on the second day of the one-off Test at Seddon Park in Hamilton yesterday.
Both batsmen came agonisingly close to maiden double-centuries, before falling to an inspired Rubel Hossain spell soon after drinks in the second session, and the Kiwis later declared with a massive total of 553 for seven.
Bangladesh started their innings in smashing form, with Tamim Iqbal looking comfortable against the New Zealand bowlers, but the visitors still face a mountain to climb as they reached 87 for one by stumps.
Guptill (189) and McCullum (185) had batted faultlessly until that point, scoring heavily on both sides of the pitch in the first session by making full use of a surface that had significantly improved for batting from Day One. The Bangladesh attack was unimaginative in the morning, continually bowling short with men back on the square boundary, even as the New Zealand batsmen picked the gaps between them with deft precision. Guptill exploited the short pitched bowling well, repeatedly flaying errant deliveries to the backward point fence, and brought up his maiden Test century from 188 balls early in the day. McCullum too, was especially brutal on the pull, heaving Shafiul Islam over the square leg boundary to bring up his fourth Test ton and his second against Bangladesh.
The batsmen continued to make merry in the morning, preying on lacklustre bowling and wearing down the opposition fielders with some slippery running between the wickets. McCullum was the first to reach 150, with Guptill following suit just before the break, after a spate of boundaries off the Bangladesh pacemen towards the end of the session.
Shakib Al Hasan's ploy to relax his aggressive field placings after lunch made for a more sedate start to the second session, in which a revitalised Bangladesh did well to dry up the boundaries for ninety-five consecutive deliveries. Guptill and McCullum had little trouble negotiating the second day pitch however, picking up the singles on offer and converting the ones into expertly judged, lightning speed twos.
A renewed Rubel, in his first spell of the afternoon, was to be their eventual demise, dismissing McCullum first with a fuller delivery before inducing a top edge from Guptill a few overs later to pick up his maiden five-wicket haul in Tests. By the time the mammoth partnership ended, the duo had broken the record for highest sixth-wicket partnership for New Zealand, missing out on the world record by 12 runs, while McCullum's 185 was the highest by a New Zealand wicketkeeper. Daryl Tuffey and Jeetan Patel then came out playing shots and boosted the hosts total to an utterly dominant 553 for 7 until the declaration came on the stroke of tea.
Tamim and Imrul Kayes began at a breakneck pace for Bangladesh in the evening session before Daniel Vettori brought himself into the attack to cut the opening stand short, at 79. Tamim in particular took the New Zealand pacemen to task, bringing up his fourth Test half-century in just 39 deliveries. He ended the day unbeaten on 56 when bad light stopped play, in an innings that featured 10 boundaries, leaving Bangladesh on 87 for 1. The tourists require their top order to cash in on a surface getting better for batting on the third day, in order to avoid a massive first innings deficit.