New Zealand have embarked on what will be a historic run chase should they chase down 317 to win the first cricket test against Bangladesh in Chittagong on Monday.
New Zealand survived a brief three-over examination before lunch on day four at the Divisional Stadium with openers Jamie How and Aaron Redmond intact on six and one respectively.
Redmond ended New Zealand’s frustrations in the field when a smart stumping by Brendon McCullum gave the occasional legspinner his first test scalp, stubborn allrounder Mashrafe Mortaza.
Mortaza’s 87-ball stay was chiefly responsible for extending Bangladesh’s overnight lead from 258 with an effective mix of resolute defence and power hitting.
He advanced from five to 44 as the Bangladeshi tail wagged in oppressive heat to eventually muster 242.
Mortaza and Abdur Razzak added 36 off the first 10 overs of the day, a blistering scoring rate in the context of the match.
Razzak, 0 not out overnight, was finally removed after making 18 off 45 balls, Ross Taylor taking a sharp chance at slip off Iain O’Brien.
Shahadat Hossain then inherited the support role, negotiating 17 balls without scoring a run before Redmond mercifully ended proceedings 15 minutes before lunch.
Bangladesh’s last two wickets added 62, indicating the wicket continued to hold few fears.
Daniel Vettori, who claimed the key wicket of top scorer Shakib Al Hasan (71) late yesterday, went unrewarded today but still ended with four for 74 off 42 overs — and a match analysis of nine for 133.
Vettori also top scored in New Zealand’s paltry first innings of 171, again illustrating how much pressure is on the top and middle order — New Zealand’s first innings lasted just 64.5 overs.
New Zealand have a mammoth 156 overs available to overhaul what would be their highest successful run chase on foreign soil.
The existing mark is the 164-4 made at the WACA in Perth to clinch the 1985 series with Australia.
History suggests New Zealand might battle. Their highest fourth innings score on the sub-continent is the 272 for six compiled when drawing with India at Ahmedabad in 2003-04.