Tom Latham

Latham, Raval tons bury Bangladesh under pile of runs

NZ v Ban, 1st Test, day 2, report

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Tom Latham’s rewarding home summer gave him his ninth Test century as New Zealand moved into a position of total domination on Friday, 1 March, the second day of the first Test against Bangladesh.

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Latham’s 161 was one of two centuries on the day – alongside that of his opening partner Jeet Raval, who made 132 – with a third, from New Zealand captain Kane Williamson, seeming a possibility by stumps at Hamilton’s Seddon Park. New Zealand finished on 451/4, with a first-innings lead of 217 runs. Williamson ended unbeaten on 93, leaving Bangladesh with an uphill task to avoid an innings defeat.

With three centuries in his last three Tests, including a 694-minute marathon that ended in a career-best 264*, this has easily been the best stretch of Latham’s career. Unlike that magnum opus against Sri Lanka, which was chanceless, Latham had his share of luck this time around.

Tom Latham and Jeet Raval put on New Zealand's best opening stand in 47 years
Tom Latham and Jeet Raval put on New Zealand's best opening stand in 47 years

Dropped on his second ball on the opening day, Latham made the most of the lapse in the company of Raval, who notched up his maiden Test century. By the time Bangladesh broke through, New Zealand were already leading by 20 runs. The duo’s 254-run stand is New Zealand’s third-highest opening-wicket partnership of all time, and their highest in the last 47 years.

Latham and Raval batted seamlessly against a Bangladesh attack that lacked bite and venom. New Zealand piled on 111 runs in 26 overs in the morning session, and a further 129 in 29 overs before tea, for the loss of Raval.

Not even the 90s could slow the batsmen down. Raval was first to the century, getting there with a brace of pulled fours against Ebadat Hossain. The shot that brought him his century also took him past 1000 career Test runs.

Latham brought up his century shortly after lunch. A six and four off Mehidy Hasan Miraz took Latham to 96. Like his partner, he raised his century with a four, albeit a less-controlled one, off the top-edge and evading fine leg. New Zealand continued to move along briskly, collecting 32 runs in eight overs after Latham’s hundred.

With all of Bangladesh’s main bowlers dealt with easily, it was Mahmudullah’s part-time off-spin that gave Bangladesh a wicket. With his fifth ball, the captain tossed up invitingly to Raval, who ventured a slog-sweep and sent a high catch to mid-wicket.

The breakthrough didn't come with respite, though. Latham continued to strike belligerently, slapping another 44 runs off the 47 balls he faced after Raval’s dismissal. With Williamson also striking fluently, the duo stitched together 79 for the second wicket, off just 88 balls, pushing the lead towards 100.

Miraz continued to bear the worst of the attack, and ended the day as the most expensive of all Bangladesh bowlers to have sent down more than one over. His 31 overs cost 149 runs and came with the wicket of Henry Nicholls late in the day.

Ross Taylor was the only New Zealand batsman to not make a substantial contribution, playing across the pad to Soumya Sarkar and being pinned in front against one that nipped back in to beat the bat.

Jeet Raval had a double bonanza, bringing up his maiden century and crossing 1000 Test runs
Jeet Raval had a double bonanza, bringing up his maiden century and crossing 1000 Test runs

Williamson and Nicholls then added 100 for the fourth wicket at four an over as New Zealand marched on relentlessly. Bangladesh continued to be lax on the field, dropping Williamson on 81 when Sarkar was late to move to grab an edge at slip off Miraz.

Miraz did eventually have some reward for his toil, but that was down more to the batsman’s indiscretion. Expecting some turn, Nicholls offered no stroke to a harmless straight delivery that went on to hit off-stump two overs before stumps. But it would have been little consolation on a day when the visitors were battered for 365 runs.

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