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Cricket news - Soumya Sarkar, Mahmudullah ace the short-ball test

Both Mahmudullah and Soumya Sarkar brought up their highest Test scores.

After Bangladesh collapsed to an innings defeat in Hamilton despite two fantastic hundreds in the second innings, their stand-in skipper Mahmudullah has pointed to the team's failures in the starkly-contrasted first innings that saw them being bowled out for 234 - an underwhelming score in a high-scoring Test match.

"I feel we missed an opportunity in the first innings,'' Mahmudullah told reporters after the match. "We needed another big innings from someone, and then the result would have been different. But I think batsmen will be feeling positive leading in the second Test."

Bangladesh went on to lose the opening Test by an innings and 52 runs but in the process gave a good account of themselves for the first time in the series. Mahmudullah and Soumya Sarkar scored brilliant hundreds, and their highest Test scores in the process, on the morning of the fourth day.

The visitors had earlier crumbled to 234 in their first innings after being put into bat and went on to the back foot after New Zealand posted their highest Test total of 715 for 6 before declaring on the third day. Bangladesh were 174 for 4 overnight, meaning they had to something extraordinary to survive the Test on the fourth day.

Mahmudullah made 146 whereas Soumya made 149 runs to make New Zealand sweat, something New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson also admitted, as the visitors braved it all - reverse swing, bodyline, spin into the rough, swing - to take some confidence ahead of the second Test.

Mahmudullah hailed Soumya for his brave hundred as he felt that he was the major reason they could put up 255 runs for the fifth wicket.

''Soumya's role was important at that time. He was batting with good rhythm and he was taking risks,'' said Mahmudullah. ''He was hitting boundaries and disturbing the bowler's line and lengths. He was doing that successfully. Our partnership was growing nicely.

''I didn't give away wickets first hour of the play. If we can survive the first hour, we knew we will finish it off nicely,'' he said.

Mahmudullah said that he was prepared not to take any extra risk initially and just wanted to make sure he does not fall into the trap of the opposition.

''I took time, I knew when the bowlers get tired, that is when I will take my chances. They were bowling bouncers and yorkers when I was batting, I was well aware of that.

"Wagner was very good with his back of the length deliveries. He was trying the bowl bouncers. Boult-Southee were trying to swing the new ball. I guess that's what their process is. When the ball was new, they try to swing it and the when the ball gets older, they bowl bouncers. Our batsmen are well aware of that. Hopefully we will keep that in mind in the next test match,'' Mahmudullah said, adding that Tamim Iqbal gave him the confidence to play some pull and hook shots that he usually does not play in the middle as they aren't his areas of strength.

''Tamim batted very well against them, Wagner was bowling from round the wicket into his body, Tamim is the best batsman in the team when it comes to pull and hook shot. I like the idea and I applied it in my batting."

Sarkar, who got to his hundred off 94 balls and equalled Tamim Iqbal's fastest hundred for Bangladesh, took on the short balls hurled by New Zealand, who were trying to make something out of a very placid track.

"I don't think I have batted against this type of a bowling plan, when the ball is bouncing so much from back of a length," Sarkar said. " I have never batted against these field set-ups too. I never expected someone can set such a field. I decided to play the short ball behind, by using the bounce and the pace, rather than playing in front.

"I realised that if I only [tried to] survive in the middle, a good ball may take my wicket, and I wouldn't have scored runs. I decided that I should at least be a little aggressive, even if it is not every ball, so that they, at least, think of changing their plans."

It was also Sarkar's first Test hundred, and it symbolically came in Hamilton, where he got his first fifty in ODIs too. "I think if I could have batted longer, they may have had to bat again. I am sure Riyad bhai would have continued to bat similarly if I was around for longer. But still, the first Test hundred is also special. When I got the chance in this Test series, I thought about my first ODI fifty, which was also in Hamilton."

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