Vol. 5 Num 673 Fri. April 21, 2006  

Australia Tour of Bangladesh

A series to remember

The series victory against Zimbabwe and a draw against the West Indies in the Caribbean put aside, the Test series against Australia would be remembered as Bangladesh's best ever performance at home or abroad considering the strength of the opposition.

Bangladesh also came close to beating Pakistan in Multan in 2003 when they lost by one wicket only but many believe that the weakest Test nation really came of age against the world champions, especially in the first Test in Dhaka.

The second Test, marred by brutal police attacks on journalists on and off the pitch was rather anti-climactic but the Tigers managed to salvage some pride with a decent second-innings performance, which they would have welcomed in the first Test in a bid to make history.

"The team doesn't really know how close they came to causing a major upset. The batting sometimes remains an area of concern. It was a total contrast between the first and second innings of the Test matches. The first innings in Dhaka was good, the second innings not so good," said Bangladesh coach Dav Whatmore adding that the opposite thing happened in the Chittagong Test.

"So we need to be a bit more consistent in getting those runs," quoted him as saying.

Captain Habibul Bashar thinks that the biggest achievement of the series was regaining the self-belief.

"We feel now that we can push any team in the world. We are showing improvement which is most important. As Dav has said, we have to be more consistent with our batting, but we have improved."

"There have been some positives like, Shahriar Nafees' batting, Rafique's bowling and batting. But I am not satisfied with the performances of a couple of guys. We need not just one batsman to score runs but one or two around him should do the job too. I also think we need someone to support Rafique when he is not taking wickets, someone who can cover for him."

Bashar said that he had expected Nafees, who scored most runs in the series, to score a lot of runs but admitted Jason Gillespie's double hundred was a surprise.

"We have seen how someone in their team inevitably contributes when needed. Our tail can learn a great deal from Gillespie. Not only his double century, he was also involved in a big partnership with Adam Gilchrist in the first Test when they were in a corner and Brett Lee also took the game away from us with his batting in the second innings. The bottom line is we all need to work a bit more harder."

"The wicket was too flat. There was no turn for us. They had two wrist spinners and they could spin the ball on any surface. For us it was difficult because our spinners are finger spinners," he said defending his bowlers who struggled in the match.

Australian captain Ricky Ponting, whose magnificent effort swung the match their way in the first Test, talked about changes after the first Test.

"After the first Test we all felt that we needed to be a lot better in a number of areas. I think we came here a lot fresher. I said to the boys before the game started that I thought we can win this Test by an innings and they managed to do that," said Ponting adding, "Dizzy (Jason Gillespie) making 200, that was the only amazing thing that happened here.

"The wicket was great and there were no excuses if you were a batsman and you got out on that wicket against that attack."

Ponting was full of praise for Bangladesh's performance. "I think like we all have said, they played very well in the first Test and caught us on the hop there. I know we were nowhere near our best or even ready to play a Test match when that day came around. They have improved dramatically since I last played them. What I would like to see though is how they do in our condition. If they are to become a force in world cricket then they have stand up and do the job in other conditions around the world."

Australian star Jason Gillespie holds aloft his trophy during the presentation ceremony at the end of the second and final Test against Bangladesh at the Chittagong Divisional Stadium on Thursday. Gillespie was named both man-of-the-match and man-of-the-series. PHOTO: AFP