There was some of the fight, and a high-quality one at that, that supporters would have wanted to see from Bangladesh but it came too late to have any impact on the outcome in the first Test against New Zealand in Hamilton yesterday.
Stand-in skipper Mahmudullah Riyad and Soumya Sarkar hit centuries in a 235-run fifth wicket stand that raised hopes of wiping out the mammoth 481-run deficit, but after the latter's dismissal, the last five wickets fell for just 68 runs as the hosts wrapped up an innings-and-52-run win just after tea on the fourth day.
Bangladesh were all out for a respectable 429 runs in the second innings, but the match was really lost on the first day when, despite a brilliant Tamim Iqbal ton on a flat batting track, the tourists were all out for 234 and then let New Zealand run up their highest Test total of 715 for six over the next two days.
Soumya and Mahmudullah resumed the fourth day with Bangladesh on 174 for four and the stand already worth 48 runs. While Soumya's batting was characterised by an almost binary clarity of playing full balls on merit and elegantly hooking -- regardless of fielders positioned for the shot -- anything short for boundaries, Mahmudullah was much more careful and seemed to be waging a battle against his own perceived shortcomings against the short ball. He was eventually ninth out for 146, indicating that he had defeated the demons within and in the opposition.
Soumya equalled Tamim's record of Bangladesh's fastest Test century by bringing up his maiden ton with a single off Tim Southee off his 94th delivery in the 16th over of the day, the 59th of the innings. As an illustration of the difference in approach between the two batsmen, Mahmudullah brought up his half-century in the following over with a straight six off leg-spinner Todd Astle, also off the 94th ball faced by the right-hander.
Bangladesh went to lunch on a promising 310 for four after 72 overs with Soumya on 123 and Mahmudullah on 65, and the duo carried on in the same vein after the interval. New Zealand took the new ball in the 81st over and Soumya's trio of boundaries off Southee in the 84th suggested that the harder, more responsive ball would not cause any problems. But in the next over, after having hit 21 boundaries and five sixes in his 171-ball innings, he played across the line to Boult and had his stumps rattled for 149, thus opening New Zealand's avenue for a win.
Mahmudullah brought up his century off 183 balls -- his second in Hamilton and his third in Bangladesh's last four Tests -- with a brace of boundaries in the 88th over bowled by Southee, but the good feeling did not last as first Liton Das played on to Boult and then Mehedi Hasan Miraz impulsively hooked bouncer specialist Neil Wagner down long leg's throat to leave Bangladesh on 380 for seven.
Mahmudullah showed that his mastery of the short ball, at least yesterday, was complete when he hooked Wagner for two sixes and then reminded watchers of his sheer class by hitting Trent Boult with a straight bat off the back foot through cover for four in the next over, the 95th. Boult then picked up his fifth wicket by dismissing tailender Abu Jayed, before Southee ended the possibility of New Zealand batting again by having Mahmudullah caught at point in the 103rd over for 146 and getting Ebadot Hossain caught behind in the same over to deliver an eventually comfortable win.
The teams now head to Wellington for the second Test from March 8 and while the hosts will be confident after the thumping win, there will also be some succour for the vanquished as they know that there are batsmen who can resist, especially if Mushfiqur Rahim also returns from injury.