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New Zealand in dream land

Talk about papering over the cracks.

New Zealand managed to bowl Bangladesh out for 289 on day one of the second test in Christchurch today.

It was an effort which, on the surface, looks pretty handy.

But New Zealand is in a dream world if it thinks its wayward effort against a severely depleted Bangladesh side at Hagley Oval would have come close to cutting the mustard against the looming Proteas.

Trent Boult aside, New Zealand’s early efforts with the new ball on a relatively helpful pitch, after winning the toss, were limp.

I find it hard to agree with the common thinking that Tim Southee is back to his best. Yes, he managed to snare five wickets today courtesy of a couple of strangles down the leg side and a sustained spell of short-pitched bowling to the Bangladeshi tail, but Southee is way off his best and has been for at least a couple of seasons.

I challenge anyone to recall the last time Southee knocked the top off an opposition batting order, in either one-day or test cricket.

He has managed to rediscover his yorker in the limited overs formats, but today was largely another display of laboured half-volleys, misdirected short balls and wayward leg side freebies.

Wickets are wickets, and Southee got them. But someone of his experience should be the first to admit numbers don’t always tell the story.

Southee ended up with five in the wickets column but, as can happen in all levels of cricket, there were more deserving wicket-takers.

After 13 overs, Southee had conceded 60 for the return of just one leg-side tickle to the keeper.

He went at well at five an over until his relentless pursuit of tail-end wickets brought his economy rate into check.

Evidently, though, the test stalwart, who now sits on 198 test wickets, seemed to be pretty happy with the day’s efforts.

“I think we were a little bit off still, but it was an improvement from Wellington,”he said.

Not really.

Bangladesh was unable to capitalise due to the absence of three key batsmen, but the bowling was no better.

Trent Boult was the exception. He was unlucky, and missed the stumps by a whisker on at least three occasions, twice against Mahmudullah and once against Shakib. He regularly got the ball up over 140kmh and looked threatening.

Southee barely topped 130kmh, while Neil Wagner took a while to get into his work but eventually found his rhythm and arguably took the wicket of the day to dismiss Mehedi Miraz. His economy rate of 2.4 was excellent, and continued his good work.

Colin de Grandhomme was again well below par and was made to look like a club bowler by Shakib al Hasan and Soumya Sarkar.

Mitchell Santner was worth a go.

Yes, New Zealand got the job done. But it was blazed to all parts of the ground in the latter half of the morning session as Bangladesh raced along to 128 for 2 at lunch off just 27 overs.

By tea, it had amassed 225 in 55 overs. That is some serious scoring on day one of a test.

New Zealand dropped three catches and let another one go between first and second slip.

Job done? Yes. But satisfactory performance? You must be kidding.

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