I noted previously that Bangladesh had made a habit of drawing at home; this match fit the template of recent results as Bangladesh managed to get a draw despite being largely outplayed. The first innings belonged to Sangakarra's 319 with only Shakib's 5/148 and Jayawardene's 72 contributing anything substantial to the scorecard. Shamsur Rahman 106 and Imrul Kayes 115 put on 232 for the second wicket, though the follow-on wasn't avoided until Bangladesh were 6 down. Mendis's took 6/99 as the tail folded, and the fast scoring throughout meant another Sangakarra hundred and 100 not out from Chandimal left Bangladesh needing 467 or (as it happened) to bat slightly more than a day to draw. Perhaps surprisingly they succeeded without major dramas: Momimul Haque making 100 not out and the match being called thereafter. With only 27 wickets to fall, it was not much of a match, and Bangladesh must decide whether flat bounceless pitches they can draw on are actually better for their cricket than a higher risk of a loss. At least in terms of wins, they are no closer than they were with a much weaker side a decade ago.
One of the more bizarre scorecards in cricket history. After a bright start India looked completely bereft of ideas as McCullum 224 and Williamson 113 piled on the runs. The rapidity of scoring seemingly necessary to produce a result on a good pitch. "Seemingly", but apparently not as first India collapsed for 202, then New Zealand for 105, throwing away an advantage two days in the making with a mixture of soft dismissals and athletic fielding from the Indian side - a huge turn-around from the first innings.
Chasing 407 with two days to do so, India played in the manner of a side that believed they could; and with Dhawan 115 and Kohli 67 at the crease with only 185 to get, the balance was tilting in their favour. Kohli though, continues to frustrate for a player of his extreme quality. His average reflects the loose shot that led to his dismissal here, and when Dhawan fell shortly after, also to Wagner, New Zealand had both a new ball and new batsmen whereon Rahane was absolutely torched by the umpire. A thrilling counter-attack from Jadeja and Dhoni followed, and had they been slightly more circumspect about their choice of shot, they'd have run this closer than they did. In the end, it was a deserved 40 run victory for New Zealand, but a performance from both sides that could be easily improved upon.
Surprisingly little has been written about this test being the first of the post-Kallis era for South Africa. The world's best side has never seemed dependent on the solidity of their former number 4 and his tight seam bowling, because their trump cards are Steyn, Philander, Morkel, de Villiers and Amla. But he did give them balance, and that extra option with the ball allowed them to play an extra batsman - adding effectively 60 runs per match. Take that out and this is a close series; add in Mitchell Johnson taking wickets like a reincarnated Charlie Turner, a fit Harris, and the improving Lyon, and it might go either way. Australia's batting was not strong against England, most of the runs from the order coming when setting targets in the second innings. With Doolan and Marsh locked in to the top-four we might see - as we have seen in South Africa in the recent past - some very topsy-turvy batting efforts from both sides. Hopefully translate to close matches at the end, and not a series of routs from one side then the other.
Shaded teams have played fewer than 2 games per season. Non-test team ratings are not comparable to test ratings as they don't play each other.
Idle Summers 14th February, 2014 20:47:39 [#]