Black Caps staring down the barrel of defeat

Ebadot Hossain celebrates the wicket of Will Young, setting off a collapse late on day four at...
Ebadot Hossain celebrates the wicket of Will Young, setting off a collapse late on day four at Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui. Photo: Getty Images
The Black Caps are in trouble. Big trouble.

For the first time in a home test against Bangladesh, the Black Caps head into day five staring down the barrel of defeat, after a batting collapse late on day four at Bay Oval.

The hosts will resume on day five leading by 17 runs with five wickets in hand, requiring an almighty rearguard to deny Bangladesh their first win in New Zealand in 33 attempts.

For Bangladesh to end that losing streak in a format in which New Zealand are the world champions would be an upset for the ages, yet one that looks increasingly likely.

From 136-2, the Black Caps tumbled to 147-5 by stumps, with the pace of Ebadot Hossain removing the stumps of Will Young (69), before bowling Henry Nicholls and trapping Tom Blundell lbw, both without scoring.

The Black Caps' survival rests on their last two specialist batsmen, Ross Taylor – who hasn't looked comfortable and should have been out at least twice – and Rachin Ravindra, with the tail order tricky to rely on after their poor effort in the first innings.

Exposing that tail would also cause quite the conundrum when it comes to balancing the need to score runs against preserving wickets. The Black Caps' seamers have the capability to score runs, but are less reliable at batting for long periods. Should they be allowed to take risks in an attempt to post a lead that Bangladesh could find challenging to reach in their remaining overs?

That's a debate the Black Caps will be hoping to avoid as long as possible, with Taylor, Ravindra and possibly Kyle Jamieson required to survive the first session in the hopes of avoiding – or at least delaying – a rare test defeat at home.

It's hard to have too much confidence in Taylor's survival skills, with his 101-ball stay for 37 runs including some wild slogs, one of which provided an easy catch that was shelled in the deep, while he also should have been run out after a horrendous mix-up that was only bettered by shambolic fielding.

Shambolic is an apt descriptor for everything that happened in the final hour, with Bangladesh wrestling the ascendancy to dominate their third straight day.

Their marathon innings continued on day four and helped to push the game further out of the Black Caps' grasp. The hosts had targeted the first hour as key to their chances, but couldn't break through Mehidy Hasan Miraz and Yasar Ali, whose defiance meant all of the Bangladesh top eight batsmen faced at least 50 balls.

Mehidy successfully reviewed two dismissals, and his 88-ball 47 was crucial – Bangladesh's last two recognised batsmen adding 75 runs and soaking up 26 overs.

Once Mehidy was dismissed, Bangladesh's tail quickly crumbled, showing how crucial missed chances earlier in the innings were as they tumbled from 445-6 to 458 all out. However, the damage had been done, with a first-innings lead of 130.

For Tim Southee (38 overs) and Jamieson (35), it was the most overs they had bowled in an innings in their test career, and after both went wicketless against India in Mumbai, had bowled more than 50 overs apiece without success before helping mop up the Bangladeshi tail.

Trent Boult (35.2 overs) and Neil Wagner (40) also racked up their third-largest work rates, with their toil giving the Black Caps batsmen plenty of time to ruminate on their first-innings efforts, but for Tom Latham it didn't help, as he completed a rare poor test across both innings by chopping on for 14.

When Devon Conway departed for 13, an inside edge bouncing off his pad and into the hands of gully, their two most reliable batsmen were back in the sheds before tea.

Bangladesh should have swiftly removed all of the Black Caps' top four, but Young was dropped on 31, while Taylor received a handful of extra lives as the pair added 73 for the third wicket. The visitors also provided a rare chance of laughter for the home fans when they wasted all three reviews, the third the most egregious, with an lbw review revealing a ball that cannoned into the middle of Taylor's bat.

And yet, all of Bangladesh's blunders might not matter. When Ebadot removed Young, Nicholls and Blundell, all with the score on 136, the equation rapidly changed.

No longer are the Black Caps hunting their 33rd straight win over Bangladesh. Now, it's time to avoid a disastrous defeat.







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