As their spinners ripped through Bangladesh, the Black Caps’ batters could have been forgiven had a nagging thought crept into their heads: what happens when it’s our turn?
They didn’t wait long for an answer, with the hosts dismissed for 172 on the first day of the second test in Dhaka, and it arrived in alarming fashion.
New Zealand had slumped to 55-5 when bad light brought a temporary end to their gloom, trailing by 117 runs as they looked to avoid a historic series loss to Bangladesh.
Such carnage was predictable. Shere Bangla National Stadium had a reputation for favouring spin, and the tourists showed in their first-test defeat they were flummoxed by the Bangladesh attack.
The identity of their tormentors was also unsurprising. After earning player of the match with 11 wickets in Sylhet, Taijul Islam added another couple to his collection, while Mehidy Hasan Miraz took 3-17 on a ground where he returned six of his seven best test bowling figures.
The Black Caps knew what was coming even before the first ball of the sixth over of the morning, when Ajaz Patel immediately generated an eye-opening amount of turn and bounce.
That over brought two appeals, a run-out chance and no wickets, as Bangladesh survived the first 10 overs after opting to bat. The tone for the day had been set, however, and the next five overs confirmed how tough life would be for both teams’ batters.
Patel (2-54) and Mitchell Santner each picked up two wickets in that span, rewarding Tim Southee for his early choice of left-arm spin from either end.
Santner, recalled in place of Ish Sodhi for his first test since June 2021, was welcomed with a gift from opener Zakir Hasan, who miscued an attempted drive. The allrounder then trapped first-test centurion Najmul Hossain Shanto and proceeded to vary his speeds well while finishing with 3-65 from 28 overs, bowling 42 per cent of the eventual allotment.
Having been reduced to 47-4, the hosts produced the opening day’s only partnership of significance, before a brain explosion from Mushfiqur Rahi allowed the wickets to again tumble.
Playing his 88th match, the 37-year-old became the first Bangladesh batter dismissed in tests for obstructing the field, swatting away a Kyle Jamieson delivery with his gloved hand.
Mushfiqur’s thinking was curious: his block sent the ball backwards yet it never threatened the stumps, and it came after he had earlier attempted and missed with a similar manoeuvre.
His departure ended a 57-run stand with Shahadat Hossain and provided an opening for Glenn Phillips to celebrate his 27th birthday in style.
After taking 4-53 in the first innings of the first test, Phillips struck twice in a four-over spell after lunch, earning another pair of soft dismissals before trapping Taijul to record 3-31.
Southee, meanwhile, became the fourth New Zealand test bowler to take a wicket without allowing a run, finishing with 1-0 from 5.2 overs. Only two bowlers in test history have achieved the feat while bowling more overs — Monkey Hornby in 1879 (1-0 from 7) and Bapu Nadkarni in 1962 (1-0 from 6.1).
Unfortunately for the the skipper, his day peaked with that peculiarity, as he was forced to then watch his top six struggle for the third time this series.
Openers Devon Conway and Tom Latham were back in the pavilion by the seventh over, the former’s stumps rocked while unwisely leaving Mehidy before the latter edged Taijul behind.
Henry Nicholls attempted aggression but lasted only 10 balls and Daryl Mitchell (12no) continued that approach, playing shots as a way to escape the suffocating spin.
There was no escape for Kane Williamson, though, edging Mehidy to short leg where Shahadat snagged a magnificent one-handed grab. Williamson’s disbelieving reaction spoke clearly to the quality of the catch — and the depths of a predicament exacerbated by Tom Blundell’s duck two balls later.
Latham, Conway, Nicholls and Blundell have now combined for 104 runs in 12 innings on tour. World Cup star Rachin Ravindra continues to watch and wait from the sidelines.