Bangladesh centuries in vain as Black Caps earn series lead

By Sports Desk March 02, 2019

Centuries from Mahmudullah Riyad and Soumya Sarkar could not prevent Bangladesh falling to defeat by an innings and 52 runs on Sunday, as New Zealand took a 1-0 lead in the Test series.

The Black Caps gained total control of the opening match in Hamilton after Kane Williamson's double century of 200 not out allowed the hosts to post a mammoth 715-6 declared in their first innings.

Having been bowled out for 234 batting first, the tourists faced a tough task attempting to delay the inevitable at Seddon Park, where they resumed on 174-4 early on day four.

Sarkar and Mahmudullah built impressively on their overnight scores of 39 and 15 respectively, the former playing freely to reach 149 from just 171 deliveries, an uninhibited knock that included 21 fours and five sixes.

Having put on 235 runs for the fifth wicket alongside the captain, he was eventually dislodged by Trent Boult (5-123) with the second new ball, Sarkar attempting to play a flick across the line and missing, the ball clipping back pad and dislodging off stump. 

Liton Das (1), Mehidy Hasan Miraz (1) and Abu Jayed (3), the latter providing Boult with his five-for, failed to offer an effective foil for Mahmudullah, who nevertheless survived to reach 146, before Tim Southee (3-98) intervened.

An attempt by the Tigers' skippers to thread a shot between point and third man proved too high, and was taken by Boult at deep point. Mahmudullah, though, could be proud of his highest Test score, with hooked sixes off Neil Wagner and two back-foot drives through cover, the latter coming at the expense of Boult, particularly easy on the eye. 

The captain gone, Bangladesh's entertaining resistance ended with a whimper on 429 all out when Ebadat Hossain went for a duck, caught behind edging Southee to BJ Watling, who passed Adam Parore as the New Zealand wicketkeeper with the most dismissals to his name. 

The hosts will have an opportunity to seal the series when the second Test starts in Wellington on Friday, followed by the third and final match in Christchurch later this month. 

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    Having lost with respective totals of 361 and 358 at Southampton and Bristol respectively, Pakistan failed to defend a score of 340-7 on Friday, despite a significant wobble from their hosts in reply.

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    In the post-match presentation, Sarfraz lamented Pakistan's mistakes and provided updates on the fitness of Imam-ul-Haq and Mohammad Amir.

    "If we were fielding well and took catches, we had enough runs on the board," said the wicketkeeper-batsman.

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    Imam was forced to retire hurt after being struck on the elbow by a delivery from Mark Wood, but the opener was cleared of a fracture following X-rays and returned late in Pakistan's innings.

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    "Imam hopefully will be ok," said Sarfraz. "He's got a bruise on his elbow so hopefully he will come back, but I'm not sure about Amir."

    Roy revealed his impressive innings had come as something of a surprise after he spent the night in hospital with his daughter.

    He told the BBC's Test Match Special: "I'm not in the form of my life. It was not my most fluent of innings but it was an extremely special feeling to get over three figures. I didn't see it coming.

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    "It was my little one. We had to take her to hospital at 1:30 in the morning. I stayed there until 8:30 and came back for a couple of hours sleep and got to the ground just before the warm-up and cracked on. It was a very emotional hundred."

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    The much-changed hosts - led by Jos Buttler with Eoin Morgan suspended - were initially cruising in pursuit of 341, reaching 201-1 inside 28 overs on the back of Jason Roy's 89-ball 114.

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    For the third match in succession, a Pakistan century proved in vain, Babar Azam striking 115 from 112 balls in a losing cause.

    Pakistan's total of 340-7 represented their lowest score of the series so far and looked short of par at a venue synonymous with high-scoring feats in recent years, most notably when England registered a world-record tally of 481-6 against Australia last June.

    The tourists were dealt a blow early in their innings when Imam-ul-Haq was struck on his left elbow by a Mark Wood short ball and forced to retire hurt. Happily, X-rays showed the opener had avoided a fracture and he returned at the end of his side's innings to finish six not out.

    Babar, brought to the crease in the fourth over due to Imam's injury, produced some typically thrilling strokes as he shared in century stands with Fakhar Zaman (57) and the recalled Mohammad Hafeez, who made a somewhat streaky 59.

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    A stunning six over cover off Hafeez brought up Roy's hundred, before he, Joe Root (36), Buttler (0) and Moeen Ali (0) all departed in quick succession to breathe fresh life into the contest.

    Junaid Khan then pulled off a superb catch off his own bowling to account for Joe Denly (17), but Pakistan's fielding was hugely unimpressive on the whole and they seemingly failed to appeal when Curran may have been run out for seven.

    With Pakistan looking increasingly ragged, England gradually regained control and Stokes fittingly hit the winning run to round off an encouraging individual display ahead of the Cricket World Cup on home soil.

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