Dizzy doubles as Aussies rule

Jason Gillespie notched up a historic unbeaten 201 as Australia racked up 581-4 declared in the 2nd and final Test against Bangladesh in Chittagong. The Aussies resumed their innings at 364-3 with Hussey and Gillespie having already added 154. They eventually made it a partnership of 320 when Hussey was dismissed for 182 – his highest Test score.

Hussey batted with his usual assuredness and composure as he compiled his fourth Test ton. Having already waltzed his way to an unbeaten 93 off only 120 balls on the third day, Hussey had his eyes set on many more as play resumed for the penultimate day. He proceeded to add a further 89 runs at better than a run a ball as he drove, pulled, swept and cut his way to 182. When he was finally caught in the deep off the bowling of part-time medium pacer Aftab Ahmed for 182, he and Gillespie had succeeded in totally demoralising the opposition. Their stand of 320 came at almost four and a half runs per over and in the first session of the fourth day alone, they had added 194 runs in only 35 overs.

Gillespie was also no slouch when it came to run-scoring on the fourth day. Having already passed the milestone of a century, he didn’t give up there. Gillespie had his sights set on many more and he set about it with an unusually stroke-filled innings. As Hussey had, Gillespie played strokes all around the ground on his way to a double. He surprised many by playing more shots than his usual forward defensive and leg-glance, late-cutting, driving through the covers, and even pulling the ball to all parts. Gillespie added 99 runs in only 125 balls in the day at a strike rate of 79.2 – comparing very favourably with his career Test strike rate of 31.96.

When he finally leg-glanced Mohammad Rafique for four to fine-leg to bring up his double-hundred, Gillespie had faced 425 balls and has batted for over nine hours. No matter the opposition, this was a moment to savour and it seemed he couldn’t quite believe what had happened. To add to the moment, it was his 31st birthday although he wouldn’t have even dreamt of such a birthday present.

Unfortunately for Gillespie, he couldn’t sit back and enjoy the moment as he and Lee began their attack on the Bangladeshi batsmen. As has been the trend for the Bangladesh openers, they played their shots against the new ball. However, that tactic did not last long as Javed Omar was trapped plumb in front by Lee for a run-a-ball 19 to leave the Bangladeshis in early trouble at 25-1.

The skipper, Habibul Bashar, was the next man in. He and the first Test centurion, Shahriar Nafees, added a crucial 102 for the second wicket as the Bangladeshis fought hard to save the match. He was dismissed one short of a half-century by Shane Warne, edging the ball to Hayden at slip. Having fought so hard in the first innings, Rajin Saleh was quickly gone in the second, becoming the second of Warne’s victims.

The Bangladeshi batsmen were under a lot of pressure with both spinners bowling well on a track with prominent cracks. For a while, it looked as if Mohammad Ashraful and Shahriar Nafees could see their team through to stumps. However, as has been the case throughout the Test series, Ashraful threw away another good start to be bowled by Warne for 29. Nafees had batted extremely well in the innings, mixing a sound defence with some good attacking shots but he needed a stable partner at the other end which he did not get in Ashraful. The next man in, Aftab Ahmed, saw the innings out to stumps with Nafees, but the Bangladeshis were looking down the barrel at 194-4 – still trailing by a monumental 189 runs.

Although the Aussies had the better of an amazing and historic fourth day, they will be disappointed they couldn’t make more of a dent into the Bangladeshi line-up. With the possibility of the weather playing a part on the final day, the Aussies will be looking to finish off the Bangladeshis quickly to cap off a satisfying summer of cricket. For Bangladesh, all their hopes now rest with Shahriar Nafees – one of the finds of the tour. He has batted sensibly while not being overawed by the opposition to make sound contributions in both Test matches.

The match is now there for the taking for Australia. Although Jason ‘Dizzy’ Gillespie has already played a significant part, he will no doubt be itching to finish things off with his primary talent to end a successful comeback tour.

Bangladesh 197
Rajin Saleh 71, Khaled Mashud 34*
Jason Gillespie 2-47, Shane Warne 3-47

Australia 581-4d
Jason Gillespie 201*, Michael Hussey 182
Mohammad Rafique 2-145, Aftab Ahmed 1-28

Bangladesh 195-4
Shahriar Nafees 75*, Habibul Bashar 49
Shane Warne 3-63, Brett Lee 1-17

Leave a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until they have been approved

More articles by Arunava Das