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Thursday, 27 December 2007

NZ beat BangladeshThe weather stayed kind, the drop-in pitch behaved like a dream and expectations within and beyond the Bangladesh team soared for a couple of hours before the Tigers allowed every positive to drift away and succumbed to a 6-wicket defeat in the first ODI of the three-match National Bank Series at Eden Park today (Wednesday).

There was overnight rain but the Boxing Day morning was shiny and bright although a blistery wind left everyone shivering. It did not affect the Bangladesh batsmen though who after being put in by Daniel Vettori showed an instant liking to the wicket. Debutant Zunaed Siddique and Tamim Iqbal played comfortably until the 9th over before Siddique (14) got carried away by the trueness of the wicket and skied one trying to play on the up and was caught by Mark Gillespie who ran to mid off to take the catch off Kyle Mills (27/1). Aftab Ahmed (8) hit an imperious cover drive and a dismissive loft over mid on but mistimed when he unnecessarily took the aerial route again and was caught (39/2).

With skipper Mohammad Ashraful joining Tamim the crowd, dominated by a vociferous expatriate Bangladeshi contingent, got what they came to watch. Ashraful started with a pulled four and the next 56 balls he faced were an exhibition of the best strokes in the coaching book and a few of his very own making. The timing was outstanding and he was in from ball one. In the 14th over bowled by Gillespie, Ashraful hit a four and then clubbed a six that sailed into the north stand. He ended the over with a trademark scoop by walking outside the off stump and then putting the ball over the short fine leg fielder to the ropes.

In Ashraful’s presence Tamim also blossomed. After some scorching lofted and ground strokes Tamim launched Vettori into the stands with a sweep. There was another audacious shot when he charged down the wicket and dispatched Jacob Oram flat over long on.

Having put on 97 together Tamim (50 off 66 balls; 4x4, 2x6) was guilty of trying to go over the top when he could have easily kept the score ticking and holed out at deep extra cover (136/3 in 27 overs). Ashraful (70 off 57; 10x4, 1x6) also failed to shoulder the responsibility of taking the innings forward and hit an uppish pull straight to Peter Fulton at deep mid wicket from an Oram delivery (150/4). At that point Bangladesh totally lost the plot.

With Vettori taking the third power play in over number 29 Gillespie squared up Shakib Al Hasan and bowled him through the gate. Mushfiqur Rahim came and nicked one straight up and Mehrab Hossain Jr. failed to get his bat away from a short ball Oram and was caught at gully. Farhad Reza hung around for very little before he helped one to slip. Mashrafe bin Mortaza (17) and Abdur Razzak (22 not out) ensured Bangladesh crossed 200 but the score of 201 was not likely to challenge the Black Caps.

With the pressure off New Zealand openers Jimmy How (88) and Brendan McCullum (40) put on 90 and Fulton (35) shared 67 for the second wicket with How before Scott Styris (25 not out) gave the finishing touches. Shahadat Hossain and Mortaza bowled with decent pace (in the mid 130 kmph mark) but did not get bounce or seam movement. Probably the only light to come out of a game that was lost in the middle-order batting was the bowling of the left-arm spinners Abdur Razzak and Shakib (3/56) who kept the batsmen thinking when they flighted the ball.

“I don’t want to blame the middle-order batsmen. They are the best we have and given time they will become very good players. I think it was Tamim and Ashraful who should take the blame because they gave it away after getting in and I believe they’ll feel the same way,” said coach Jimmy Siddons.
“The batters forgot some team rules out there. the bowlers bowled as well as they could but New Zealand had good batsmen and there was never enough runs to put pressure on them.”

"I think this was a 260 plus wicket and even if we could have got to 230-240 then the match might have been interesting because traditionally this is not a very high-scoring venue. So I must take responsibility for the batting debacle after 25 overs. We will learn from this and hopefully make fewer mistakes in the next match in Napier because in every game we have sghown improvement on this tour. In the past we used to lose too many early wickets but now the top order is giving us fine starts. we just need our middle-order to fire," said Ashraful.

The tourists travel to Napier tomorrow for the second ODI on December 28.

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