Bangladesh stun Australia
10 Apr 2006
By: Arunava Das
The Bangladeshis began the day on 355-5 with hopes of racking up a 400+ score and then placing some early pressure on one of the strongest batting lineups in the world. What actually transpired would have been beyond their wildest dreams and Bangladesh lef the field at the end of the second day with a chance to press for a historic victory.
The second day began quietly, with play continuing at a more sedate pace than on the first day. The Australian bowlers found a better line and length and managed to keep Bangladesh quiet for the remainder of their innings. The first wicket to fall in the morning was Mohammad Rafique, attempting a big shot against MacGill only to see the ball cannon into his stumps.
The remainder of the Bangladeshi innings was to be dominated by MacGill. He picked up a career-best 8-108 as the Bangladeshi innings was finally wrapped up with 427 on the board. The standout performance of the day from Bangladesh was a fine knock of 67 from Rajin Saleh - his fifth half-century in Tests. Saleh kept the runs ticking over to ensure his team passed the crucial psychological barrier of 400 and averted the batting collapses so often seen in Bangladeshi cricket.
As expected, Australia began their innings watchfully on a pitch that was beginning to show signs of inconsistent bounce. The Bangladeshi opening bowlers, Mortaza and Hossain managed to get the occasional ball bouncing disconcertingly low and kept a very tight line and length to rule out any easy runs for Hussey and Hayden. Mortaza in particular did not give an inch, and eventually Hayden missed the line of one playing forward and was trapped plumb in front for six. The next man in was the in-form Aussie skipper, Ricky Ponting, and he immediately looked comfortable at the crease.
Ponting played a few of his signature shots, and was particularly severe on anything down the leg-side. However, when he was LBW as well to another ball that kept low, the Aussies were in a spot of bother. The going didn't get much better for them as the spinners came on to bowl. Rafique extracted a fair bit of turn out of the pitch and soon Martyn was bowled off the edge for onlt four to leave the Aussies reeling at 50-3 at tea.
Soon after tea, Rafique picked up his second wicket of the day with Hussey inside-edging one off a defensive shot onto the stumps to be bowled. Australia were in a tailspin at that point at 61-4 and it didn't look as if things would get better anytime soon. Michael Clarke, recalled to the team after almost a year after being dropped was looking good against the spin of Rafique when the Bangladeshi skipper, Habibul Bashar, brought on young spinner Enamul Haque to bowl.
Enamul's second ball of the match was an absolute beauty. The ball fizzed past the bat after pitching on leg to crash into the off-stump and Clarke was gone for 19. Next in was the leg-spinning maestro, Shane Warne. Warne didn't look comfortable at the crease for his short stay, unable to play his aggressive natural game due to the tight bowling of Enamul and Rafique. Enamul has his man, bowling a slightly quicker ball outside off-stump to get the edge and his second wicket of the day. The Aussies were 93-6 and in danger of being forced to follow-on.
The arrival of Gilchrist and Lee averted such fears temporarily. Gilchrist in particular batted intelligently, picking which balls to hit carefully and showing a solid defensive straight bat otherwise. He was quick to get on to the front foot with the ball keeping low and soon brought up his 50 in fine style. His unbeaten innings of 51 also included a few other records, with his two sixes moving him into the lead on the Test six-hitters list and also moving past 5000 Test runs - becoming the first wicketkeeper to do so. Lee provided good company for Gilchrist in the closing stages of the day, although he did come perilously close to edging a few and one ball from Enamul Haque just spun past the off-stump.
The Bangladeshis will be over the moon with their day, having comprehensively outplayed the world champions for two days and putting them in the unfamiliar position of possibly having to follow on. They will be looking to wrap up the Australian innings quickly in the morning with only Gillespie, MacGill and Clark to come. For the Australians, all hope lies with Gilchrist and Lee. Even so, they are in a tricky position with only four wickets left.
Shahriar Nafees 138, Habibul Bashar 76, Rajin Saleh 67
Stuart MacGill 8-108, Jason Gillespie 2-47
Adam Gilchrist 51*
Enamul Haque Jnr 2-18, Mohammad Rafique 2-40Discuss this news item in the Cricket Web Forums