A gruesome day for Bangladesh was highlighted by Mushfiqur Rahim being taken off the field in an ambulance after being struck on the helmet by a bouncer from Tim Southee. The fact that he was batting in the first place, having injured his hand, was a sign of how desperate the situation was for the visitors. They were eventually bowled out for 160 seven overs after lunch. Set 217 to win in 57 overs, a quickfire Kane Williamson century saw New Zealand home in 39.4 overs; the hosts’ seven-wicket win also broke a record that had stood for 122 years.
Overnight on 66 for 3, Bangladesh’s day began with Shakib Al Hasan’s awful heave barely seconds after the start of play. When the focus should have been on survival, he popped a catch to mid-on off Mitchell Santner. The man who had set Bangladesh up with the possibility of beginning an overseas series with a win, hitting their highest ever individual score of 217, had fallen for a duck. They were reduced to 96 for 5 when Mominul Haque did not anticipate a fuller delivery from Neil Wagner. His feet were pinned to the crease, hinting he was expecting a bouncer, and was caught in the slips.
Adding to Bangladesh’s woes were the injuries to key batsmen: opener Imrul Kayes had retired hurt on the fourth day during Bangladesh’s second innings due to a thigh injury, and Mushfiqur’s innings was cut short on day five. The end to Mushfiqur’s innings came at a time when he seemed to be dealing with the short ball quite well. A ball that kept low from Southee hit him on the helmet just behind his left ear. There would be outcry over how often the bowlers targeted the fingers on Mushfiqur’s bottom hand – which might well be broken – but he would have known what he was in for when he decided to bat with a target on him. Mushfiqur was taken to the hospital, where scans indicated he was out of immediate danger, and returned to the ground to watch his record partnership for Bangladesh with Shakib – they had added 359 in the first innings – become the second-highest one to result in a defeat.
Bangladesh still had hope of something face-saving while Sabbir was at the crease. A naturally aggressive batsman, Sabbir spent 51 minutes without scoring – during which he could have been caught and bowled – and batted sensibly with the tail until lunch. After the break though, perhaps worried by Kamrul Islam Rabbi and Subashis Roy’s batting abilities, he began taking a lot more risks and was caught behind for 50 while attempting an on-the-up square drive. Imrul came out to bat again at the fall of Kamrul – the seventh wicket in the innings – and added 12 more as Bangladesh lost their last four wickets for 23 runs. Trent Boult picked up 3 for 53, bowling Roy and Taskin Ahmed with reverse-swing.
New Zealand’s chase was a contrast to the manic day that it was for Bangladesh. Williamson reinforced his reputation as a fourth-innings master. He reached a hundred off only 89 balls, the fourth-fastest in the final innings in all Tests. And yet there were no pyrotechnics. The most he did was meet a few lifters in mid-air and paste them through cover though there was no room on offer, or alternatively work his wrists over them and find the midwicket boundary.
Mehedi Hasan, given the new ball again, dismissed Jeet Raval and Tom Latham before tea, beating the first man with flight to earn himself a return catch and the second with turn as a half-hearted defensive shot led to an inside edge onto the stumps. But Bangladesh bowled poorly thereafter, drained by their injury worries and shocked by how wildly the match had turned. Even as late as tea on the fourth day neither team had begun their second innings. By 5.47pm on the fifth, the visitors were beaten. Badly. They couldn’t get the simple disciplines right. The quicks were too short, the spinners bowled leg stump and outside and while that was meant to slow down the scoring, it had the opposite effect. In a 10-over after the second wicket, they leaked 77 runs.
New Zealand’s overall run-rate – 5.47 – was the third-highest in the fourth innings as Williamson, with his 15th century, and Ross Taylor, with his 24th fifty, put on their eighth hundred partnership and ensured the fans who packed the Basin Reserve – it was free entry for the final day – witnessed history.