HAMILTON, New Zealand: Martin Guptill finally revealed a character trait some had long suspected as New Zealand took a vice-like grip on the one-off cricket Test against Bangladesh on Tuesday.
Guptill’s career-best 189 confirmed there is indeed significant substance behind a batsman until now noted for lacking starch to match his style. He was not alone in steering New Zealand to a position of strength at 7-553 declared, with Brendon McCullum riding shotgun as he also took full toll of a threadbare Bangladeshi attack to set a new benchmark for a New Zealand wicketkeeper with a vibrant 185.
They combined in a record stand of 339 for the sixth wicket, the third best of all time for any nation and the third highest partnership for any wicket for New Zealand. Bangladesh showed their liking for the pitch as well, racing to 1-87 before an early close forced by poor light, with opener Tamim Iqbal on 56 not out off just 48 balls and his partner Imrul Kayes back in the shed for 28 after edging to slip off spinner Dan Vettori.
But New Zealand are clearly in the box seat, thanks to Guptill and McCullum, who formed a mutual admiration society as they dissected their performance. Guptill raised his modest record at the highest level when saying he felt relief after being named in this team despite the demotion down the order.
“I was lucky to still be in the side after a lacklustre start to my career but to get that first hundred is fantastic,” Guptill said. Guptill, 23, and McCullum, playing his 50th Test, delighted the statistically minded as they ticked off a number of milestones after joining forces on Monday with New Zealand in some bother at 5-158.
They were not parted until late in Tuesday’s second session when McCullum, with 17 fours and three sixes next to his name after 321 minutes at the crease, played all around a straight ball by Rubel Hossain.
Guptill followed soon after, getting a thin edge to an attempted pull stroke off the same bowler, ending 442 minutes of almost immaculate strokeplay that rewarded him with 18 fours and one six.
Rubel’s two strikes enabled the 20-year-old paceman to earn his first five-wicket haul in his fifth Test, ending with figures of five for 166 off 29 overs on a flat surface tailor made for runscoring.
But in the absence of any sun, the spotlight shone brightest on Guptill and McCullum, who ground the Bangladeshis to a standstill with barely a false stroke in sight.
Bangladesh won toss
New Zealand 1st innings
T G McIntosh c Imrul b Shafiul 7
B J Watling c Junaid b Rubel 13
P J Ingram c Shahadat b Rubel 42
L R P L Taylor c Mushfiqur b Rubel 40
M J Guptill c Mushfiqur b Rubel 189
*D L Vettori b Shakib 10
†B B McCullum b Rubel 185
D R Tuffey not out 31
J S Patel not out 12
Extras (b1, lb10, w5, nb8) 24
Total (7 wickets dec, 135 overs) 553
Did not bat: T G Southee, C S Martin
Fall: 1-17, 2-57, 3-66, 4-126, 5-158, 6-497, 7-525
Bowling: Shahadat Hossain 24-1-136-0; Shafiul Islam 31-2-111-1 (2w); Rubel Hossain 29-1-166-5 (8nb, 3w); Shakib Al Hasan 37-6-89-1; Aftab Ahmed 4-0-10-0; Mahmudullah 7-0-21-0; Mohammad Ashraful 3-0-9-0
Bangladesh 1st innings
Tamim Iqbal not out 56
Imrul Kayes c Taylor b Vettori 28
Junaid Siddique not out 3
Total (1 wicket, 17 overs) 87
To bat: Mohammad Ashraful, Aftab Ahmed, *Shakib Al Hasan, †Mushfiqur Rahim, Mahmudullah, Shahadat Hossain, Shafiul Islam, Rubel Hossain
Bowling: Martin 5-0-35-0; Southee 3-1-14-0; Patel 3-1-18-0; Tuffey 3-0-12-0; Vettori 3-1-8-1
Test debut: Peter Ingram (New Zealand)
Umpires: R E Koertzen (South Africa) and R J Tucker (Australia). TV umpire: S J A Taufel (Australia). Match referee: A G Hurst (Australia)