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Cricket news - Sarkar's maiden Test ton leads Bangladesh defiance

Soumya Sarkar equalled the record for the fastest Test ton by a Bangladesh player

A maiden Test ton by Soumya Sarkar and a fighting half-century by Mahmudullah collaborated in a defiant partnership as Bangladesh managed to keep New Zealand at bay in the first session on Day 4 of the first Test in Hamilton on Sunday (March 3). New Zealand employed short-ball tactics to try and unsettle the Bangladesh batsmen but Sarkar led a fine counter-attack, scoring as many as five sixes as he put on an undefeated 184-run stand with his skipper to help the visitors to 310 for 4 at Lunch, trailing by 171.

The short-ball barrage, which tested Sarkar and Mahmudullah late on Day 3, continued into the fourth morning as Wagner and Boult came hard at the Bangladesh fifth wicket pair. But Sarkar didn't hesitate to take them on, bringing up a fifty by pulling Boult for a six and repeating the shot a few overs later. At the other end, Mahmudullah was hanging back and waiting for the short balls which he handled well.

After a 12-over spell in tandem for Boult and Wagner, Todd Astle was introduced into the attack and he was welcomed by two boundaries from Mahmudullah. Wagner bowled one more over from the other end and almost picked up a wicket as Sarkar was tempted into a pull and just about managed to clear Boult at fine leg. Mahmudullah was jumping, ducking and pulling, with his technique looking ungainly but it was effective enough to prevent New Zealand from picking up any wicket in the first session.

Astle had an expensive start, with Sarkar and Mahmudullah confidently coming down the track and sending the ball over the fence for a couple of sixes. Tim Southee also went for a few as Sarkar reached three-figures for the first time in Test cricket, getting there off 94 deliveries to make it the joint fastest hundred for Bangladesh. Mahmudullah went past fifty while the partnership crossed the 150-mark to add to the frustrations of the New Zealand bowlers as the pair remained unbeaten at Lunch, having managed 136 runs in the session in 29 overs.

Brief scores: Bangladesh 234 & 310/4 (Soumya Sarkar 123*, Tamim Iqbal 74, Mahmudullah 65*; Trent Boult 2-84) trail New Zealand 715/6 decl. by 171 runs.

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