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Australia humbled by Bangladesh
18 Jun 2005
By: Eddie Sanders

A very warm and sunny Sophia Gardens was the venue for the second match in the Natwest Series, between Australia, ranked first in the world, and Bangladesh, ranked eleventh.

Ricky Ponting won the toss and decided to bat, an extraordinary decision given the history of One Day Internationals at Cardiff and the early morning humidity, as the Baggy Green sought to shake off their inauspicious start to the 2005 tour of England.

Bangladesh, meanwhile, were eager to bounce back following their mauling at the hands of England a few days earlier, and they seemed keen and bubbly as they took the field. Once again, it looked for all the world as though manager Dav Whatmore had worked his psychological magic and picked his charges off the floor.

Mashrafe Mortaza opened the bowling to Adam Gilchrist and made a sensational start for his country, his huge appeal for leg before wicket being upheld by umpire Billy Bowden as Gilchrist departed for a second-ball duck.

Tapash Baisya started well, beating Matthew Hayden outside off stump then dropping a fraction start, was clattered through the covers for the first boundary of the morning. Both opening bowlers kept the ball just short of a full length, Ricky Ponting greeting almost every delivery he faced with a premeditated forward lunge.

At the start of the sixth over with both batsmen becalmed, something had to give, and it was the Australian captain's patience as he drove across the line at one pitched well up that nipped back at him off the wicket. The appeal was a mere formality, and David Shepherd replied in the affirmative. Australia, sensationally, were 9-2 with two of the world's most destructive batsmen back in the pavilion.

Damien Martyn started promisingly, crisply clipping his first ball to square leg for four, but at this stage it was Bangladesh who were most definitely in the ascendancy, so much so that by the time the tenth over had ended, Australia were still the wrong side of 30. Mortaza in particular was causing immense problems, conceding just four runs in his first five overs.

The introduction of Nazmul Hossain into the attack did little to free the shackles as he started with a maiden to Damien Martyn, but Hayden turned his attention to the expensive Baisya, re-introduced at the River Taff End. His first ball, in the slot, was clubbed hard and high over long on for the first six of the day. When the bowler dropped short the next ball, the batsman was waiting and crashed ith through the covers for four.

Another clubbing drive by Hayden at the start of the 15th over seemed to signal a change of emphasis, then the opener had a fortunate escape, holing out to Mohammad Rafique at mid off. Hayden looked mightily relieved, Bangladesh distraught when the umpire's signal sank in. In truth, the bowler, Tapash Baisya, only had himself to blame, this being the fifth occasion he had transgressed in as many overs.

When the fielding restrictions were relaxed at the end of the over, Australia had moved on to 51 for the loss of Gilchrist and Ponting, but they could consider themselves fortunate to be just two down at this stage.

Hayden attempted one too many liberties against the very impressive Nazmul Hossain, aiming another heave at a ball just wide of off stump. A split second later, the death rattle signalled that he had chopped the ball on to his own stumps with the total on 57. On this occasion, there was to be no reprieve.

The spin of Mohammad Rafique was introduced in the 19th over, but with mid on and mid off back on the fence, even to the new batsman Michael Clarke, Bangladesh seemed to be sending out all the wrong signals as Habibul Bashar tried to set a field to contain Australia.

Aftab Ahmed became the fifth bowler to be used at the start of the 22nd over and he began tidily enough, conceding just a brace of twos as Australia sought to consolidate, still going at less than four runs an over. At the other end, Rafique troubled Martyn with one that leaped off a good length.

Michael Clarke found the boundary with a delightful on drive off Aftab Ahmed, the first time Australia had reached the fence in almost ten overs as Bangladesh began to fritter away their early impetus and the game started to drift. A neat nudge by Martyn took the score past 100 at the half way stage.

Rafique continued to extract lift and turn out of the wicket, but still Bashar declined to place any pressure whatsoever on the World Champions, continuing with no-one within 20 yards of the bat and with five fielders on the fence. As if to prove the point, an easy single by Clarke to cover brought up the fifty partnership from a little more than ten overs.

Martyn and Clarke continued to rotate the strike well, taking no chances and it was little surprise that Martyn moved on to his 29th fifty in One Day Internationals when he turned a single to fine leg. Incredibly, it was an innings that contained a solitary boundary - and that came from the very first ball.

Michael Clarke came within a whisker of losing his wicket when Martyn drove straight back to Ahmed, the ball deflecting off the bowler before passing perilously close to the stumps with Martyn stranded yards out of his ground. Still Australia seemed unperturbed at the lack of boundaries, content to deal in ones and twos.

Clarke survived a huge appeal for leg before wicket when struck on the pad by the admirable Rafique, but on this occasion Billy Bowden answered the question dismissively. At the end of over 37, when drinks were taken, Australia had reached 138-3 and Cardiff was waiting for the explosion that was surely to come in the final overs.

Mushrafe Mortaza, as if in expectation of the onslaught to come, was brought back into the attack following his superb opening spell. Still Australia seemed content merely to milk the singles, there having been only one boundary in more than twenty overs of cricket.

The 150 was raised in the 40th over, when Clarke nudged a single. As if to celebrate the landmark, Martyn found the fence with a lofted drive off Ahmed. Not to be outdone, Clarke followed suit with an on drive from a Mortaza full toss. As the innings entered its final ten overs, the fuse was well and truly alight.

Damien Martyn's eyes lit up when the hitherto expensive Tapash Baisya was recalled, but it was the bowler who prospered. Martyn (77), eyeing the wide open spaces on the off side, backed away to leg and deposited the ball, as neatly as you like, into the safe hands of Nafees Iqbal at deep cover to leave his side on 165-4.

Clarke clattered a high full toss from Nazmul Hossain over midwicket for a one-bounce four, then something similar next up went the other way, through cover, to take Clarke within a single of his half-century. He duly went to his ninth fifty in one-day internationals with a brace off Tapash Baisya as the overall run rate finally crept past four an over.

Baisya picked up his third wicket when Clarke (54) backed away and blasted the ball straight to Mortaza at extra cover and the fifth wicket had gone down with the total on 183. It seemed at this stage that every time Australia tried to put their foot to the floor, they trod in something.

With new batsmen Hussey and Katich at the wicket and only six overs of the innings remaining, there was no time for either man to have more than a cursory glance at the bowling. A rank long-hop from Hossain was battered to backward square leg by Hussey for a much-needed boundary, then a sliced nine-iron over cover by Simon Katich elevated the 200 in the 46th over. Another boundary off the same bowler brought Katich more joy as the accelerating scoreboard finally started to leave vapour trails.

Hussey danced down the track to Nazmul Hossain and clobbered a short ball through midwicket for four as bowling figures suddenly took a battering in the 'death' overs, but all in all the Bangladeshis had maintained their discipline throughout. At the end of their allocation, Australia had made a relatively disappointing 249-5.

The Bangladeshi attack, for the most part, could take great heart from a spirited performance following so soon after the mauling they had suffered at the hands of England. Mortaza, especially, bowled a penetrative line and troubled all of the Australian batsmen, whereas Tapash Baisya reaped the rewards of some inauspicious shots and stuck to his task manfully. The no-balls were an unnecessary problem for the medium-pacer, however.

A target of 250 against anyone is no mean task, and to have any chance against the current World Champions, Bangladesh required a solid start. Miserly old war-horse Glenn McGrath delivered the first ball to Javed Omar who opened his accountl with a nudge to fine leg. Meanwhile Jason Gillespie started with a maiden as the Bangladeshis studiously got behind the ball.

Nafees Iqbal clattered a rare wayward delivery by McGrath past point for a fine boundary as the first four overs went for only eight. Javed Omar sumptuously drove another careless ball by McGrath through extra cover as Bangladesh, determined but not reckless, refused to be overawed by their more illustrious opponents.

Australia made the breakthrough with the total on 17, and it came following a period when Bangladesh struggled to get the ball off the square against some tight seam bowling. The excellent Gillespie found a little sideways movement, sufficient to find the edge and Nafees Iqbal was on his way, caught by Gilchrist for 8.

Javed Omar took the fight to Gillespie with a delightful turn off his pads for four past fine leg, then drove the bowler's next ball through the covers for another boundary. At the end of the 10th over, Bangladesh had moved on to 28-1, marginally better than the position the Australians had been in at a similar stage of their innings.

McGrath gave way to Michael Kasprowicz who started with a high full toss to Javed Omar. The Bangladeshi opener only succeeded in breaking his bat - the second time he had achieved the feat within half an hour.

Brad Hogg's left arm wrist spin was introduced at the other end and Tushar Imran immediately jumped all over two half-volleys, smacking both of them through mid on for welcome boundaries to take the side's total into the forties. Kasprowicz was then driven through extra cover to bring to a close the first 15 overs and with it, the end of the fielding restrictions. Bangladesh had made a very promising start, moving on to 46 for the loss of 1 wicket.

Tushar Imran drove Hogg back over the bowler's head to take the score past 50, but in attempting a similar shot later in the over, he only succeeded in finding the flying Katich at mid off. A promising innings had been brought to an end for 24. Hogg came close to picking up the wicket of new batsman Mohammad Ashraful two balls later, the ball trickling within an inch of the batsman's leg stump. Such is the margin between agony and ecstasy.

The difference between the two sides in terms of both approach and confidence was apparent for all to see at this stage as Australia continued to squeeze the batsmen, maintaining six fielders inside the circle. Ashraful pounced upon a long hop from Kasprowicz and he succeeded in threading it through the infield for the first boundary for some time as the asking rate began to climb. At the other end, Ashraful swept Hogg for four to take the score on to a respectable 67-2 after 20 overs.

The game was delicately balanced when another glorious Ashraful boundary, this time on the up from a perfectly respectable Kasprowicz delivery gave Ricky Ponting food for thought and the Australian skipper finally placed a sweeper at extra cover - a moral victory of sorts to the Bangladeshi batsman.

Javed Omar decided to try to take the attack to the Australian bowlers himself, having played the sheet-anchor role so successfully for the first 20 overs. Having seen Ashraful survive a wild swipe across the line, Omar (19) climbed into a short ball from Kasprowicz only to see it travel straight to Matthew Hayden at backward point.

Habibul Bashar, Bangladesh's most accomplished batsman by some way, came in next with the hopes of his countrymen resting squarely on his shoulders. Michael Clarke and Mike Hussey became the fifth and sixth bowlers to be used as Ponting looked to get through the middle overs as quickly as possible. All the time, the asking-rate was rising.

Bangladesh took their reply past 100, but it had taken them all of 30 overs. Barring something quite extraordinary, this game was in the bag for Australia already. Ashraful played a delightful shot off Hussey, which brought him another boundary over fine leg's head. Then, in Clarke's next over, a clubbing drive over extra cover prompted Ponting to get serious, bringing back Glenn McGrath into the attack.

Habibul Bashar greeted the seamer with relative aplomb, cutting his first ball to the fence at backward point. Ponting, chopping and changing, brought back Brad Hogg at the Cathedral Road end in place of the ineffectual Clarke, and his first ball was nudged to square leg by Ashraful to take the partnership fast fifty. For the first time in the game, the Australian fielders were looking a little rattled.

Bashar launched Hogg poker-straight for another boundary as Bangladesh continued to be more than a mere nuisance to Australia, keeping very close to their opponents' score at the same stage. It's worth remembering, though, that Australia smashed the ball to all parts in the last ten overs, and they still seemed to have plenty in hand.

A superb shot by Ashraful, smashing Glenn McGrath for four over extra cover had the crowd baying for an encore, and two balls later he delivered, slapping the ball in exactly the same place to move to fifty in some style. Win, lose or draw, we were indeed witnessing something special from the fledgling cricketing nation who were beginning to learn to fly.

McGrath was taken out of the attack and replaced by the previously innocuous Kasprowicz who continued to bowl too short, although he should have picked up the wicket of Mohammad Ashraful, Gillespie being guilty of an absolute howler from top edge down to fine leg.

A sign of the growing confidence being shown by the batsmen could be seen when Ashraful cheekily played a reverse sweep off Hogg, then a neat turn past fine leg brought an improbable ten runs off the over. With a dozen overs remaining, the target was below ninety, and Australia looked decidedly embarrassed.

The return of Michael Clarke was greeted in no uncertain terms by Habibul Bashar, drilling the ball straight past the bowler for yet another boundary and in the process, taking the partnership past 100. All the problems at this stage were Ponting's, and he must have been regretting his earlier decision to bat first.

Ashraful hooked Kasprowicz for two then clipped the same bowler to fine leg for four, and for the first time, the team from the subcontinent were beginning to look clear favourites as they required a mere 63 runs from just nine overs. Could the world's worst international side defeat the world's best?

A wonderful late dab past slip brought Ashraful his tenth boundary as the Bangladeshis continued to make the Australian second-string attack look woefully inadequate. So it was that Jason Gillespie was recalled with Australia in desperate need of a wicket. Another misfield took Bangladesh on to 200-3 as the fielders seemed to visibly wilt under scorching sun.

As the pressure mounted at the end of a tight Gillespie over, Habibul Bashar (47) found himself needlessly run out by inches, trying to steal a single. It was a senseless end to a fine partnership, which had added a very valuable 130 for the fourth wicket.

Aftab Ahmed came in and immediately clipped a boundary past the desperately diving Gillespie at fine leg. An exchange of singles left just 38 to win from the final five overs with Ashraful undefeated on 90. All they had to do was the small matter of negotiating Messrs McGrath and Gillespie. Ashraful, meanwhile, seemed to be having little difficulty, sweeping McGrath for four, a stroke that prompted a few choice words from the bowler.

Ashraful nearly threw it all away with a crazy single, but Ponting missed the stumps with the batsman miles out. Then, the greatest moment in Mohammad Ashraful's young life so far as he clipped a McGrath full toss for a single to go to a century at a run a ball. It was the second century ever scored by a Bangladeshi batsman in a One Day International (the first being registered by Mehrab Hossain against Zimbabwe six years ago), and he had achieved it against the best side in the world.

The equation now was simple - just 23 runs required from three overs. Could they do it? Ashraful pounced upon a ball of full length from Gillespie, only he failed to get hold of it fully. Brad Hogg, as safe a pair of hands as you will find in international cricket, safely pouched the catch just inside the boundary.

The task was now in the hands of Mohammed Rafique and Aftab Ahmed - and Rafique timed Gillespie sweetly through the covers for four. Then a complete slog by the same batsman was edged over fly slip for another boundary, leaving a run a ball required.

Cometh the hour, cometh McGrath - only Bangladesh didn't seem to have read the script. A wide half volley was smashed through the covers by Rafique, then two superb bouncers left the batsman swiping at air.

One over to go, the pick of the Australian bowlers on the day, Jason Gillespie, to deliver it, and seven runs separated Dav Whatmore's charges from history. First ball, in the slot, six! Aftab Ahmed launched the ball many a mile straight back over the bowler's head. The damage was done, the scores level. The scrambled leg bye off the next ball was a formality.

Bangladesh, ranked eleventh in the world, worse than Kenya, had humiliated the World Champions and in the process come of age. No longer can anyone say that Bangladesh do not deserve their place in the upper echelon of the world game. They are here - and they are here to stay.

Bangladesh 250-5 (Mohammad Ashraful 100, Gillespie 41-2)
Australia 249-5 (Martyn 77, Clarke 54, Tapash Baisya 3-69)
By 5 wickets

CricketWeb Man of the Match Mohammad Ashraful

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