Normal Service is Resumed

Ricky Ponting won the toss at a murky Old Trafford and had no hesitation in sending the Bangladeshis in to bat. There was to be no repeat of last week’s failure to take the opposition seriously.

Brett Lee opened the bowling for Australia and Javed Omar Belim turned his first ball down to fine leg for a single. Fellow opener Shahriar Nafees also had no trouble in moving off the dreaded zero with little delay, cutting Lee to third man.

At the other end, Glenn McGrath warmed up with an impressive maiden to Shahriar, right on the spot and extracting just enough seam movement to make life less than comfortable for the Bangladeshi batsman.

Lee, too, was moving the ball substantially, both in the air and off the seam, but at this early stage in the contest the speedster was somewhat wayward, unable to settle on the metronomic line he had shown against England on Thursday. At the end of the fifth over, Bangladesh had progressed in relatively untroubled manner to 11 without loss.

Lee got one spot-on with the first ball of his fourth over, full and straight. With Bangladesh on 13, Javed Omar (3), head up and swinging, was struck in front deep within his crease. The only doubt the umpire would have had was whether it would have just struck the stumps or uprooted them.

Tushar Imran lost no time at all in opening his own account with a super drive through the covers, sending a wide half-volley from Lee to the fence for the first boundary of the day. It was to be the batsman’s sole contribution of the morning. In Lee’s following over, an airy-fairy waft at a ball just outside off stump was feathered through to the diving Gilchrist to leave his side on a precarious 23-2.

Arguably the batsman of the series so far, Mohammad Ashraful, was next man in, and some decidedly lacklustre fielding allowed him a comfortable couple. Shahriar was quick to pounce on that rarest of rare beasts, a Glenn McGrath half-volley, clipping the ball off his toes over square leg, and two balls later, another indifferent ball was clipped past fine leg for four more.

Ashraful signalled his intent to bring out the long handle with an amazing top-edged six off Lee, then it seemed that his innings was destined to be a mere cameo as he slammed his next ball to extra cover. To the joy of the crowd, the umpire’s cry of ‘no ball’ curtailed the celebrations and gave Ashraful a life. Another short ball from Lee, another six, then a four over square leg and the bowler had been systematically taken apart, conceding an improbable 20 off the over.

Another dropped catch, this time by Hayden in the slips as the young slugger swiped at McGrath, gave the Australians further cause for concern. Meanwhile, at the Stretford End, the hitherto out of form Jason Gillespie replaced Lee, and he too conceded an early boundary, Shahriar playing him late and delicate past second slip. By the end of the 13th over, Bangladesh had raced on to 65-2.

Shane Watson’s first ball, replacing McGrath from the Brian Statham end, took the form of a leg stump half-volley which Shahriar eased past square leg for another boundary. Another extraordinary flick over fine leg brought Ashraful four more to take the partnership past 50, and at the end of the 15th over Bangladesh had progressed to a more than creditable 76-2.

Brilliant fielding by an understandably fired-up Brett Lee down at third man saved a couple of runs at the expense of a threat to life and limb. Meanwhile Gillespie, still terribly out of sorts, strayed on to the pads of Shahriar and followed that up by a half-tracker two feet outside off stump. The batsman needed no second invitation with either as this topsy-turvy tournament continued to surprise.

A quite excellent Watson over had Ashraful fending off a nasty bouncer which saw the batsman smiling to the bowler’s chirps, then a couple of seaming deliveries outside off stump only just failed to have the batsman’s name on them.

The introduction of Brad Hogg revealed that the wicket was taking some sharp turn, the resultant edge from Shahriar Nafees racing away to third man for four. Ricky Ponting immediately slammed the stable door by bringing a slip into play, but the horse was rapidly disappearing over the horizon.

A neat turn to fine leg when Hogg over-pitched saw Bangladesh in to three figures at the end of the 21st over before the sharp-paced Watson gave way to the more pedestrian Andrew Symonds, bowling his off-breaks. A perilously close run-out appeal following excellent work by Lee was adjudged in the scampering Ashraful’s favour, saved by a cloud of dust that obscured the business end of his bat.

It is rare to see spin operating from both ends in a One Day International but this Old Trafford wicket seemed to be the type of pitch that Jim Laker would have given his right arm for in another era. As it was, it was making for an intriguing contest at this early stage. The Bangladesh batsmen surprisingly seemed less at home facing the turning ball and it was no surprise when Shahriar Nafees (47) made an almighty mess of a sweep to a ball from Symonds of full length and was bowled.

113-3 became 113-4 one ball later when Bangladesh skipper Habibul Bashar, with men around the bat, was out-thought and out-pressured by his opposite number, rooted to his crease and edging Symonds through to Adam Gilchrist. With the all-too-familiar warning bells ringing loudly, it needed someone to come in and knock the ball around but more importantly, to stay with Ashraful.

A single pushed to mid-off by Ashraful off the bowling of Hogg took Bangladesh’s brightest young thing through to the completion of the first of what is likely to be many thousands of runs in One Day International cricket. His partner of the hour, Aftab Ahmed, had made just 3 when he tried to make contact with another sharply turning ball from Symonds. The death rattle behind him told him all he needed to know.

Mohammad Ashraful square drove Hogg for a single to take his own score up to 50, but with wickets falling all around him, now was not the time for heroics, especially against Symonds who had been a revelation thus far. With the innings entering the final 20 overs, Bangladesh had only reached 130-5 although with two main line spinners in their own line-up and the wicket giving more than a little assistance, it was difficult to gauge what would be a competitive total.

Khaled Mashud came in at No 7 and failed to show much evidence of the experience of almost 100 One Day Internationals experience, playing across the line to a ball from Brad Hogg only to be bowled around his legs. At 137-6 and displaying all of their familiar frailties, Bangladesh were in real danger of disappearing without trace. A position of real strength had been frittered away by a series of nonsense shots and ridiculous liberties against the best side in the world.

Ashraful was the next to go with the total on 139, brilliantly caught and bowled by the athletic Symonds for a splendid 58 as the Bangladesh collapse continued apace. The wheels were off once and for all in the next over when Manjural Islam Rana charged down the track and aimed a heave at Hogg, only to miss the ball by the width of his bat. Adam Gilchrist was left with the simplest of tasks to remove the bails.

Three balls later, another injudicious stroke saw Mashrafe Mortaza aim yet another wild smear in the direction of the square leg umpire, only to edge the ball to Damien Martyn at slip. The embarrassment was complete an over later when Mohammad Rafique went the way of so many of his team-mates, playing across the line to a sharply turning ball.

113-2 had turned into 139 all out in a frenetic hour of cricket that had seen the last five wickets go down for the addition of a mere two runs, the type of collapse with which followers of Bangladesh cricket were all too familiar. Andrew Symonds ended his stint with lifetime best figures in international cricket of 5-18. It remained to be seen what the Australian approach would be in reply.

Mashrafe Mortaza opened the bowling and Adam Gilchrist was immediately under way, turning the ball down to fine leg for a single. Hayden found the ropes on the leg side as the bowler erred in line, but a good comeback saw the opening batsman flailing at air.

Nazmul Hossain shared the new ball and the 17-year old seamer beat Gilchrist outside off stump with one that kept a little low as Bangladesh sought an early breakthrough in order to make a contest of the match. Gilchrist struck a fine boundary through midwicket, then when Hossain dropped short, a signature square cut fairly raced to the boundary to take the total to 20 without loss.

Both opening batsmen were scoring a succession of singles down to third man as Bangladesh seemed powerless to put a brake on the scoring, then Hayden opened his shoulders and clubbed Nazmul Hossain for four boundaries in an over, the second of which took Hayden past 4000 career runs.

The Australians seemed keen to end the game in a hurry and Adam Gilchrist joined the party, hooking Mortaza then driving through the covers to take the score past fifty in the seventh over.

The spin of Mohammad Rafique was introduced as early as the eighth over, hardly ideal timing but inevitable under the circumstances.

Gilchrist was still showing occasional signs of struggling for form, badly mistiming a drive off the bowling of Mortaza, yet he still raced past 30 at a run a ball. Hayden was going along even faster, but he was fortunate when a sweep off Rafique was bottom-edged past his own wicket for four.

A good over from Mashrafe Mortaza to Hayden was wasted when a rank long hop was pasted to backward point for four, then Gilchrist cracked Rafique high into the stands for six as Australia threatened to win the game at a canter. Two more drives over the top brought Gilchrist further fours and took the wicketkeeper-batsman through to his half-century.

Manjural Islam Rana became the second spinner to be called upon with the fielding restrictions still in place as Bangladesh strived to get anything out of the game, but an errant line merely allowed Hayden to pick his spot past fine leg. A nudged single by Gilchrist took the opening partnership past 100, the eighth time the pair had achieved such a feat, but on this occasion in double-quick time, less than 14 overs.

Hayden went aerial to go to his own fifty, driving Manjural straight back over the bowler’s head, and at the end of the 15th over Australia stood on 113 without loss, just 27 shy of their target.

A huge six by Hayden brought the target down to single figures. The only time a ten-wicket victory seemed less than likely was when Hayden mistimed a sweep off Mohammad Rafique, the ball falling tantalisingly short of the outstretched fingers of Habibul Bashar.

A series of singles off the bowling of Manjural Islam Rana brought the sides level, and it was left to Hayden to turn the winning single to midwicket. Australia had done everything that had been asked of them, the ring-rustiness of a week ago all but eliminated.

It was the sixth time Bangladesh had lost an international by ten wickets and the second occasion in a week, as comprehensive a victory as you could imagine, brought about by the complete capitulation in the face of the spin of Hogg and Symonds earlier in the day.

As the tournament moves toward the third round of matches, it is looking more and more likely that the ‘Big Boys’ will be contesting the final, and that Bangladesh, despite a horrible performance today, will be able to take some consolation in the form of the fearless Mohammad Ashraful, destroyer of reputations.

Match Summary

Bangladesh 139 all out, 35.2 overs
Mohammad Ashraful 58, Shahriar Nafees 47
Symonds 5-18, Hogg 3-29

Australia 140-0, 19 overs
Gilchrist 66*, Hayden 66*

Australia won by 10 wickets
CricketWeb Man of the Match
Andrew Symonds (Australia): 5-18

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