A hostile spell of fast bowling from Neil Wagner (5/45), admirably aided by his fellow left-arm seamer Trent Boult (4/52), took New Zealand to an innings victory on the final day of the second Test in Wellington.
The win was all the more impressive considering that rain washed out the first two days of play. Bangladesh resumed on Tuesday, 12 March, needing another 141 runs to make New Zealand bat again with seven wickets in hand. With the ball losing its shine and New Zealand without their skipper Kane Williamson and first-choice wicket-keeper BJ Watling – neither player took to the field due to injury – it was no simple task for the hosts to win the game, let alone do so by the lunch interval.
Watling’s place behind the stumps was taken by the uncapped 27-year-old gloveman Peter Bocock, who has just three first-class appearances to his name. To his credit, in an alien environment, Bocock acquitted himself well throughout and didn’t display any signs of nerves.
Bangladesh, through Soumya Sarkar and Mohammad Mithun, started the morning comfortably. On 112/3, having resumed on 80/3, they would have harboured realistic aspirations of if not batting out the day, ensuring that New Zealand had to bat for the second time in the Test.
Then Trent Boult – who has now taken 23 wickets in his last three Tests – bowled a pearl of a delivery to dismiss the set Sarkar for 28. The ball, honing in for the left-hander’s off-stump, found Sarkar’s edge and subsequently provided yesterday’s double-centurion Ross Taylor with the simplest of chances in the slip cordon.
From that point, it was Neil Wagner who became the tormentor-in-chief. Running in with his characteristic hostility and forgoing the common practice of line and length bowling, Wagner stuck to his plan of short-pitched bowling aimed at the batsmen’s body with impressive regularity and conviction.
Mithun (47) was his first victim, pulling a well-directed short delivery to stand-in skipper Tim Southee at leg gully. It was a good catch by Southee and vindication of his original field setting as captain. Liton Das came and went for one, recklessly pulling Wagner to Boult on the fine leg boundary.
Wagner was then too much for Taijul Islam who fended yet another short delivery to Tom Latham at silly point. Bangladesh’s captain Mahmudullah and Mustafizur Rahim then offered a short period of entertaining resistance. Mustafizur registered two sixes on his way to a career-best score of 16 while Mahmudullah scored an excellent 67 off 69 balls.
In the end, Boult and Wagner sealed the game and the series for their team. The pair of left-arm seamers took combined figures of 9/97 and ensured that New Zealand won the game with plenty of time left to spare. Taylor was the worthy recipient of the Player of the Match award for his 200 in New Zealand’s only innings of the game.
The series continues with the third Test in Christchurch, which begins on Saturday, 16 March.