A defiant maiden half century by
Bangladesh rookie Mehrab Hossain succeeded in stunting New Zealand’s
progress on a laborious opening day of the first cricket test at
Chittagong on Friday.

Hossain, playing just his second test, was rewarded for showing
rare enterprise at the Divisional Stadium – bringing up his fifty
off 84 balls, break neck speed in the context of an otherwise
pedestrian batting performance on a gentle wicket.

The left hander eclipsed his previous test best of eight — made
against Sri Lanka in Colombo last July – with a composed 164-ball
stay that frustrated a tiring New Zealand attack.

Hossain and wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim produced a face-saving
partnership of 139 for the fifth wicket, a record for Bangladesh
against allcomers.

Rahim followed Hossain to the batting milestone, bringing up his
second test half century with his eight boundary, a consummate
straight drive.

At stumps Bangladesh were 183 for four, a slow but steady
recovery from a troubled start. Hossain resumes on 79 and Rahim 59

They expertly revived Bangladesh’s innings after the underdogs
had listed to 44 for four shortly after lunch.
Bangladesh could have been in even deeper strife had New Zealand
grasped some early chances — Tamim Iqbal and Rajin Saleh were both
dropped before they scored, lapses that should have seen the hosts
three down without a run on the board.

Instead Iqbal and Saleh cobbled together a painstaking
partnership of 34 for the second wicket during an opening session
that contained 32 overs — only a dozen of which were scored off.

The resolute pair were chipped out early in the middle session
for a sluggish 18 and 20 respectively and when Mohammad Ashraful was
trapped leg before wicket for a tortured two from 35 balls New
Zealand may have envisaged batting before stumps.

However, Hossain, 21, hinted at his coming of age with a
confident innings marked by resolute defence and a full array of

The rope was only reached twice before lunch but Hossain was
willing to go on the offensive on arrival, loosening the shackles by
stroking seven boundaries in his fifty.

Rahim, 20, was an able deputy, battening down the hatches between
the striking of nine boundaries and the solitary six of the innings
off Jeetan Patel, New Zealand’s most expensive bowler.

The pair piloted Bangladesh to 101 for four at tea and although
they only took a dozen runs from the first 10 overs of the final
session, the duo’s stickability continued to thwart the visitors,
even after the second new ball was taken 14 over before stumps.

Pace bowler Iain O’Brien had given New Zealand the ideal start
when he had opener Junaid Siddique trapped plumb in front with his
first ball.

The right armer should have had more cause for celebration
moments later but Brendon McCullum could not glove a regulation edge
from Saleh’s bat.

O’Brien had to wait for his second spell to remove the
unconvincing Saleh who was bowled off an inside edge when attempting
to drive.

The Wellingtonian, favoured ahead of teenager Tim Southee, bowled
tightly throughout his three spells in sweltering heat — typifying
New Zealand’s honest toil.

Four of Mills’ first five overs were maidens while Jacob Oram
kept the clamps on, at one stage delivering nine consecutive maidens
as Bangladesh were locked in survival mode.

O’Brien reached tea with the remarkable figures of two for four
off 11 overs, including eight maidens. He ended with two for 25 off
17 overs while Vettori had two for 50 from 28.