Shakib Al Hasan covered Daniel Vettori’s every move to guide Bangladesh into a potentially match-winning position after day three of the first cricket test against New Zealand in Chittagong today.
Al Hasan used the morning session to complete Bangladesh’s best ever bowling analysis in an innings, and by stumps at the Divisional Stadium a classy career-best 71 had provided the platform for an overall lead of 258 — though Vettori did strike back late with two key wickets.
New Zealand need to achieve a record fourth innings run chase on foreign soil to avoid an embarrassing loss after they failed to fully capitalise after reducing Bangladesh to 49 for four at lunch.
Ominously for New Zealand they have never overhauled a fourth-innings total in excess off 200 in 41 attempts — their best is the 164 for four made to beat Australia on Perth’s WACA in 1985.
Should they fail New Zealand can blame their own batsmanship and the remarkable input of a 21-year-old playing just his seventh test.
Bangladesh did their best to squander a 74-run lead after rolling New Zealand for 171 — after they resumed on 155 for nine.
Vettori was left stranded on 55 not out — his 17th test half century — and midway through the final session the New Zealand skipper again appeared dejected as Al Hasan knuckled down before upping the pace after he posted his maiden test fifty.
Al Hasan figured in two important stands as Bangladesh batted themselves into a position of relative comfort.
After Tamim Iqbal fell for 33 to leave Bangladesh vulnerable at 71 for five, the left hander and wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim posted a watchful 56 runs off 26.4 overs.
When Rahim (32) became Iain O’Brien’s first victim after nine luckless overs Al Hasan clicked into the groove with debutant Naeem Islam, the pair adding 48 for the sixth wicket.
Al Hasan embossed his stunning haul of seven for 36 with probing left arm spin when compiling his maiden half century off 105 balls.
He reached the milestone after his ninth boundary dissected a congested off side field set by Vettori for Kyle Mills.
Al Hasan then teased Mills with an identical drive for two, prompting the right armer to groan in despair.
Mills also overstepped during an over that cost 10 and after nurdling a single off the last ball he then set about marring Jeetan Patel’s figures.
Al Hasan slog swept three consecutive deliveries to the mid wicket rope as Bangladesh wrestled the ascendancy with a 22-run flurry.
But the Bangladeshi duo retreated as stumps approached and Vettori responded magnificently.
His sixth delivery with the second new ball had Al Hasan caught by a juggling Ross Taylor at slip, ending a 151-ball stay that superseded his previous best, 41 not out, at the Basin Reserve in January.
Vettori wasted little time in underlining his class , beating the doughty Islam’s defences with a ball that pitched on middle before clattering into his front pad.
He departed for 19 off 70 balls, leaving Mashrafe Mortaza (5) and Abdur Razzak (0) to survive the final over before stumps.
Vettori ended with four for 39 off 31 overs, the perfect follow up to his five for 59 in Bangladesh’s first innings. Patel had two for 52 off 19.