Aus in Bangladesh: Series Review

With barely time to breathe, the Australian cricketers headed to Bangladesh after a hard fought series in South Africa to compete in two Tests and three ODI’s.

There was hardly time for net practice before it was into the first Test.

While the results were as expected with Australia winning the test and ODI series, the way it happened was definitely not predictable. With Bangladesh lowly rated as a cricketing force, and Australia the number one team, the Aussie script had been to use the time in Bangladesh to give exposure to a few of the lesser lights in the Australian cricket team to develop depth, especially with the Ashes series and the World Cup looming.

Australia recalled Michael Clarke, Jason Gillespie and Stuart MacGill for the tour, to replace the injured Justin Langer and Michael Kasprowicz who returned home. Nathan Bracken and Dan Cullen arrived before the second test. This was earlier than planned and was a tribute to Bangladesh’s near win in the first test. Brett Dorey and Mark Cosgrove were called in to replace Damien Martyn and Stuart Clark for the ODI’s.

While Bangladesh started brilliantly, applying sustained pressure on the Australians in the first Test, they were not able to continue this for the rest of the series. Consequently, the ODI’s in particular were more one-sided affairs.

There was the usual helping of a match fine for dissent as Ricky Ponting was fined 25 percent of his match fee in the second Test for his animated appeal at the third umpire’s decision when Aftab Ahmed appeared to edge the ball into his boot, before being caught by Adam Gilchrist. Once again this raised the issue about whether a captain should have the right to ask the third umpire for clarification of an issue when the result was close.

One of the highlights of the series was Jason Gillespie’s 201* which was the highest score by a nightwatchman. Gillespie also bowled well in the first test, getting a wicket in his first over. His excellent all round performance with both bat and ball ensured that he was awarded another contract from Cricket Australia. This was something which had been unthinkable before this tour because of his dismal performance during the Ashes series last year. Some might say that his remodelled hairdo could have been the key to this stunning turnaround, as Gillespie disposed of his trademark mullet for a more conventional hairstyle.

Another highlight was the wonderful batting by Bangladesh on the first day of the first test. Particularly by Shahriar Nafees who hit 138 to post his first test and first class century. He was ably partnered by his captain Habibul Bashar who made 76. They provided a formidable platform for Bangladesh to set up a win in this test. In contrast, Australia’s top six batsmen could manage only 145. Once again, as in Cardiff last year after scoring a historic ODI win over Australia, Bangladesh proved they were no pushover. The Australians seemed completely at a loss to combat the hot and unfamiliar conditions. Mohammad Rafique did most of the damage for Bangladesh with figures of 5-62.

Lee and Gilchrist saved Australia from what could have been the biggest upset in test history, with Adam Gilchrist hitting 144. While Gilchrist had not been in the best batting form, he adjusted well to the low slow wicket. Australia managed to scrape together 269 for its first innings.

After being all out for 148 in their second innings, Bangladesh set Australia a target of 307 for victory. However, when things started looking a bit rocky it was Captain Ponting who stood up to ensure that victory was Australia’s with a gritty 118 not out. Australia finally won by three wickets, taking a 1-0 lead in the series.

Bangladesh was always alive in this test, with Rafique and Nafees giving outstanding performances. Their efforts could so easily have produced a stunning victory for Bangladesh.

The second test was played in Chittagong with Abdur Razzak and Dan Cullen making their debuts for their respective teams. The Australians, having adjusted to the conditions, began this test with a much better effort than the first test, having Bangladesh all out for 197 on the first day on a batsman’s pitch. Gillespie and Shane Warne took five wickets between them. The highlight of the second and third days was the stunning double century by nightwatchman Jason Gillespie. This was the highest innings by any nightwatchman in the history of test cricket, with the previous best being 127 by Mark Boucher. At stumps on day two, Australia were 364-3.

Bangladesh were not able to apply the same pressure in this test as previously at Dhaka. After a more solid second innings display, Bangladesh lost the test by an innings and 80 runs.

Australia won the test with the home side spending the best part of 10 sessions in the field. Bangladesh would have been disappointed with their second test performance, especially as they could have won the first test. Australia were far more convincing in the second test, with good batting performances from Gillespie and Lee. Martyn and Clarke would have been disappointed at being outshone by two of their lower order colleagues.

Australia won the Test series 2-0.

In the ODI’s, Australia were far more convincing. They won all three ODI’s with convincing performances from several key batsmen and bowlers.

In the first ODI in Chittagong, Bangladesh set Australia a modest total of 195. Adam Gilchrist hit a whirlwind 76 from 46 deliveries and seemed to be playing on a different pitch to his counterparts. In the second ODI, Andrew Symonds made a well constructed 103no. to form the mainstay of the Australian innings. Bashar hit 70 for Bangladesh. The third ODI was more of a walkover, with Australia set a small target of 124 for victory. Brett Dorey and Mitchell Johnson were brought into the match. The Australians were able to win with the loss of only one wicket. New boy Mark Cosgrove hit 74.

Australia in Bangladesh 2006

Two Tests, three One Day Internationals.

First Test: Dhaka – Australia won by 3 wickets
Second Test: Chittagong – Australia won by an innings and 80 runs

First ODI: Cittagong – Australia won by 4 wickets
Second ODI: Dhaka – Australia won by 67 runs
Third ODI: Dhaka – Australia won by 9 wickets

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