Vol. 4 Num 61 Sat. July 26, 2003  
Front Page

Bangladesh batter Aussies

Bangladesh finally got their act together by punishing Australia on the first day of the second and final Test in Cairns yesterday.

By close of play at the Bundaberg Rum Stadium, the Tigers had reached 289 for eight after being asked to bat first on a pitch that was supposed to offer more assistance to the fast bowlers.

But even a five-wicket haul by leg-spinner Stuart MacGill could not stop Bangladesh from compiling their second-best first innings score at Test level. Their highest total was 400 against India in the inaugural Test played in Dhaka in November 2000.

Tapas Baishya ( 21) and Mashrafee-bin-Mortuza ( 7) were the not out batsmen.

Thrashed by an innings and 132 runs last week at Darwin, the tourists picked themselves up magnificently thanks to the batting of Hannan Sarker who scored 76 off 136 balls. The technically-sound opening batsman slammed nine boundaries.

He was given solid support by Habibul Bashar (46 from 79 balls), Sanwar Hossain (46 from 91 balls) and ex-captain Khaled Mashud (44 from 115 deliveries).

After being dropped at slip on 29 and 58, the right-handed Hannan put on 108 for the second wicket with Bashar as Bangladesh reached a commanding 155 for one just after lunch.

The commanding stand was broken when Bashar, the country's highest run-scorer in the game's longer-version, was brilliantly caught and bowled by MacGill.

From a position of strength, the Tigers lost four wickets for 15 runs.

The highly-rated Mohammad Ashraful did not last long when paceman Jason Gillespie had the teenage batting star controversially caught down the legside for a duck. Television replays, however, showed the ball may have flicked Ashraful's thigh pad rather than his bat or gloves.

With the score still unmoved on 156-3, Hannan's fighting knock came to an end when he misjudged a ball from MacGill that kept low and was trapped lbw.

All-rounder Alok Kapali's wretched time with the willow continued after he became MacGill's fourth victim with Bangladesh on 170.

The New South Wales leggie ended another promising partnership between Sanwar and Mashud.

The sixth-wicket pair added 60 runs before Sanwar chopped a ball on to his stumps.

Captain Khaled Mahmud followed for a first ball duck to put MacGill on a hattrick which Tapas Baiysha survived -- but only just.

The experienced wicketkeeper-batsman Mashud and Baishya combined late in the day for a record eighth-wicket partnership for their country.

They collected 51 runs, beating the previous best of 46 by Akram Khan and Enamul Hoque against Zimbabwe in 2000-01.

Mashud was closing in on a maiden Test half-century before becoming Gillespie's second wicket of the day. Speedster Brett Lee (1-88) was the other wicket-taker for Australia. His victim was opener Javed Omar who made 26 in an opening stand of 47.

Agencies add: MacGill, who took 5-77 to boosted his tally to 126 wickets in 25 Tests, said he was surprised the Cairns pitch had taken spin on the first day's play.

"I'm not really sure what happened," the 32-year-old told a news conference.

"Even though it was supposed to be a quick bowlers' wicket, I sort of love a bit more pace. I'm much more at home on a wicket like this than I would be on a slow, dusty one."

MacGill said he had been impressed with Bangladesh's patience.

"They just let the ball go and were happy to do that. They were really, really committed to that plan. That's a fantastic improvement," the Australian said.

"I think this could be quite a good game now. Tomorrow and the next day are going to be pretty good batting days."

Top-scorer Sarker was very aware of the importance of Bangladesh's first innings.

"We made 400 in our first Test against India (three years ago)," Sarker told a news conference.

"After that this is our greatest day in Test cricket because it's against Australia."

"I think this was my best innings so far because I played confidently."

Asked if he thought Bangladesh could win the game, he smiled and said: "I can't say anything."

"We are about trying to play as well as we can. We don't talk about winning and losing," said coach Dav Whatmore.

"It was very pleasing to see I must admit."

Whatmore said after Bangladesh had made just 97 and 178 in Darwin last week, low scores would not be tolerated again.

"I think I can be forgiven for looking at that bar being raised a bit, now that there is a reasonable standard set against this sort of opposition, there'll be a high expectation generally against other opposition as well," Sri Lanka's 1996 World Cup-winning coach said.

Bangladesh opening batsman Hannan Sarkar (C) swats a full toss away for four runs as Australian wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist (R) and Matthew Hayden (L) watch on on the first day of the second Test Match in Cairns yesterday. Photo: AFP