Bangladesh in control against Black Caps

Bangladesh's Liton Das and Mominul Haque shared a 158-run partnership that frustrated the kiwi...
Bangladesh's Liton Das and Mominul Haque shared a 158-run partnership that frustrated the kiwi bowlers. Photo: Getty Images
In the 33rd match between the Black Caps and Bangladesh in New Zealand, the classic cricketing query of "Who's winning?" has a new answer.

Victims of 32 consecutive defeats across all formats in New Zealand, Bangladesh have put themselves in the driver's seat on their 33rd attempt, with a superb showing on the third day of the first test in Mount Maunganui.

A 158-run partnership between Mominul Haque (88) and Liton Das (86) saw Bangladesh reach 401-6, leading by 73 runs with two days to go, as the visitors find themselves in uncharted territory in New Zealand.

Previously, the closest Bangladesh came to victory was in ODIs, on occasion taking New Zealand down to the last few overs or wickets, or forcing them to fight back with a middle-order surge, but never being dominant.

A victory in this test would still surprise, with the most likely outcome a draw. The pitch has offered little to the bowlers since day one, and the Black Caps batsmen should be able to steer their team to a more comfortable position when required to bat on day four.

However, any top order failures could make things dicey, while a Black Caps victory - they were at $1.06 before the test to do so – now looks unlikely, requiring a quick flurry wickets on day four followed by rapid runs, a possibly risky declaration, and a day five bowling masterclass.

Trent Boult picked up two late wickets but Bangladesh will go in to day four with a lead of 73...
Trent Boult picked up two late wickets but Bangladesh will go in to day four with a lead of 73 and four wickets still in hand. Photo: Getty Images
It's a big ask for the Black Caps to pull off – so much so that speculation should be put aside for now and the plaudits and attention focused on Bangladesh.

Liton was the star performer, aggressively turning the tables on the Black Caps bowlers after they had started well in the first session. After several missed chances on day two, Neil Wagner finally removed Mahmudul Hasan Joy for 78 in the third over of day three, and Trent Boult uprooted Mushfiqur Rahim's middle stump for 12 to leave Bangladesh at 203-4.

Still at the crease was Mominul, but he was hardly convincing, offering a caught and bowled chance on eight that all 2.03m of Kyle Jamieson came fingertips short of reeling in, while one run later he was given out caught behind off Wagner, only for the replay to reveal a no-ball.

It was a mighty close call, and Wagner had a few choice words for the decision, continuing to simmer as Mominul and Liton built their big partnership.

Bangladesh had only added 45 runs in the first session, but Liton's arrival changed matters, racing through to 41 off 45 balls and looking classy and comfortable doing so.

Mominul was the opposite, taking 100 balls to reach 18, and offering an array of half-chances. Fortunately for the visitors, his uncontrolled shots snuck through vacant areas, while several edges fell just short of fielders, a common theme throughout the Bangladesh innings that left the bowlers frustrated.

Mominul was aided by Liton however, whose attacking play forced the Black Caps into more defensive fields, allowing the Bangladesh captain to grow into his innings and up his scoring rate, with the pair combining for 87 runs between lunch and tea.

As the Black Caps' frustration and desperation grew, their bowling got shorter, with Wagner's legside tactics being co-opted by his fellow seamers as Mominul and Liton passed 50 and zeroed in on centuries.

However, just as three figures neared, Boult removed them both, trapping Mominul lbw to end 244 balls of streaky defiance, before Liton's first rash shot of the day saw him swat at a wide ball outside off and offer an edge to wicketkeeper Tom Blundell.

Bangladesh still had two solid batsmen at the crease – Yasir Ali, who has a first-class average of 50, and Mehidy Hasan Miraz, owner of a test century – and the duo added an unbroken 31 before stumps to keep Bangladesh in control, and leave the Black Caps needing a mighty effort to get back into their customary winning position.

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