Mohammad Ashraful hands debutant Naeem Islam his Test cap, Bangladesh v New Zealand,1st Test, Chittagong, 1st day, October 17, 2008The hosts crawled to 183-4 from 94 overs at the close of a painfully slow day in 35degC heat but were grateful at being let off the hook after the BLACKCAPS' catching let them down at the Divisional Stadium. Mehrab Hossain (79 not out) and Musfiqur Rahim (59 not out) mounted a spirited fightback after Bangladesh had at one stage looked in danger of being dismissed cheaply after captain Mohammad Ashraful opted to bat first on a placid pitch.
That decision almost backfired spectacularly after Iain O'Brien, preferred by the BLACKCAPS ahead of Tim SOuthee and Mark Gillespie, removed Zunaed Siddique lbw with his first ball and the seventh of the match.
But Brendon McCullum grassed a regulation chance the very next ball to give Rajin Saleh a life before Aaron Redmond dropped Tamim Iqbal at second slip off Kyle Mills in the third over - all before a run had been scored.
The blown chance made the Tigers' batsmen run-shy and they inched to lunch, with Iqbal enjoying another let-off when Redmond failed to hold a chance at short leg off Jeetan Patel, at 34 for one from 32 overs.
After the resumption the BLACKCAPS struck quickly with captain Daniel Vettori enticing a drive from Iqbal and McCullum held on to the thin edge. Iqbal, who is known as somewhat of a dasher, had squeezed out 19 runs in his 80-ball stay.
His inspid innings was surpassed by Saleh who was finally claimed by O'Brien in the 42nd over when he chopped the ball onto his stumps. His stay yielded 20 runs from 129 balls.
O'Brien at one stage had the remarkable figures of 2-4 from 11 overs as the hosts were more intent on self-preservation than run-scoring.
The next over saw Vettori deceive Ashraful in the air to trap him in front and see them slide to 44 for four. But any hopes the BLACKCAPS had of rattling through the order were stymied by Hossain and Rahim who combined in a unbroken 139-run stand for the fifth wicket - a new test record for Bangladesh.
Hossain brought some life to the listless innings and succeeded in upping the run-rate with some attractive strokeplay and he found Patel to his liking, hitting him for three boundaries in one over before tea. But both he and Rahim found, like the other Bangladesh batsmen, the miserly Jacob Oram difficult to get away with the allrounder conceding just nine runs from 15 well-directed overs.
They grew in stature in the final session as the BLACKCAPS bowlers began to tire in the heat. Hossain brought up his first test half-century from 84 balls while the more circumspect Rahim took 138 balls to record his second fifty in tests.
The pair comfortably dealt with the second new ball which Vettori took the moment it became available and the BLACKCAPS were left to rue a day that had got away from them.
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