Trent Boult had a lot of fun. Martin Guptill enjoyed himself. Henry Nicholls had a hoot and the sell-out Dunedin crowd had a pleasant day out before retiring to their homes for a glass of mulled wine in front of the fire.
The Bangladeshis? Not so much fun.
For the 14th time in 14 attempts they fell short of earning their first ODI win against New Zealand in New Zealand. A long way short.
New Zealand won by eight wickets, with 28 overs to spare, with Nicholls and Will Young not out on 49 and 11.
Bangladesh’s batting was so poor and so devoid of strategic nous that it was impossible to make a proper assessment of their bowling as they had nothing to defend. Guptill wasn’t interested in making a detailed assessment either, choosing instead to end the match as early as possible, boofing four of the 19 balls he faced for six during his cameo of 38.
Devon Conway had some time at the crease on debut, too, scoring a comparatively laboured 27 off 52 balls.
The Black Caps have won every series they’ve played this summer and on the strength of this match it stretches the limits of the imagination to think that streak will end over the next two matches.
Bangladesh might have looked at the small ground and a number of unfamiliar names on the New Zealand scorecard and thought, ‘We might be in with a chance here.’
Tom Latham won the toss, inserted the visitors and Boult quickly disabused Bangladesh of the notion that this would be anything other than a thorough examination of technique and temperament.
Boult is the best 50-over bowler in the world. That’s not an unsolicited opinion. It’s written on a chart on the ICC website, so there.
Even if your world view slants towards cynicism when confronted by graphs and tables, there was plenty of real-time evidence of Boult’s supreme skill. His opening five-over spell was a clinic punctuated with two scalps and several balls that were far too good to get wickets.
Boult probed with Torquemada-like cruelty. Twice he beat Tamim with balls that swung and snaked past the outside edge before sliding one in to trap him stone dead. The raising of the finger was merciful relief for Tamim, not so much for Soumya Sarkar who replaced him and followed him back to the sheds in short work after a misguided attempt at an uppercut.
Boult (4-27) was far from alone. Matt Henry was a willing inquisitor and on another day his six-over opening spell would have bought rewards. He would be within his rights to demand Latham shout him a Tom Collins when they hit Dunedin’s swinging nightlife after the keeper dived in front of Daryl Mitchell causing him to spill a regulation edge.
In another one for the cricket-makes-no-sense file, Henry would finally get a wicket with a rank long hop that top-scorer Mahmudullah slapped straight to Mitchell Santner.
Kyle Jamieson reminded everybody of his talent after an awkward fortnight during the transtasman T20 series, troubling all the batsmen with his bounce and swing. He will bowl far worse and return better figures.
Even Jimmy Neesham, whose career economy rate of more than six per over hints at his inconsistency, kept the batsmen buttoned down, while dismissing the dangerous Liton Das (19) and Mushfiqur Rahim (23).
He also had a hand, literally in the fifth dismissal as he tried and failed to take a one-handed return but parried the ball onto the stumps where non-striker Mohammad Mithun was stranded.
At the halfway mark Bangladesh were 73-5 and going nowhere fast. Mahedi Hasan replaced Mehidy Hasan Miraz, bowled around his legs by Santner for a painstaking one, and hit the second ball he faced in international cricket 94m over the cover boundary.
It was a rare highlight which counted for little when Santner outfoxed him a couple of overs later, inducing Mahedi (14) to spoon a catch to a rapidly backpedalling Nicholls.
Boult finished the insufficient innings with a wonderful delivery that clipped the top of Hasan Mahmud’s off stump, and then outfoxed Taskin Ahmed with a knuckle ball.
“It was a good toss to win,” Boult said in the innings break. “It was a bit of a spicy wicket that played a few tricks.”
That may be so, though Guptill made light of any trickery in the surface.
Bangladesh were reminded just how far they are from home.
The teams meet again in Christchurch on Tuesday. It will be a poignant return for the team, some of whom fled the Masjid Al Noor mosque in the city on that tragic day two years ago.
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