Specials – Moments from Australia v Bangladesh Test history

  Australia and Bangladesh will be facing each other in whites after more than 11 years when they begin their two-Test series in Dhaka on August 27. The history between them in the longest format is brief – only four matches across two series have been played since 2003. Nevertheless, these Tests have had their share of conspicuous moments, not to mention a few stirring performances.

Darwin and Cairns join the Test club

  As part of Cricket Australia’s plan to host off-season matches at unexplored locations, two new venues were welcomed into the Test fold for Australia’s inaugural series against Bangladesh in 2003. The Marrara Oval in Darwin and the Bundaberg Rum Stadium in Cairns became the 89th and 90th Test venues respectively.

  To nobody’s surprise, Australia notched a comfortable 2-0 victory courtesy of resounding innings wins in both games. The gap in both, experience and skill, was evident on the first day of the first Test itself as Bangladesh, led by Khaled Mahmud, were shot out for 97. The win at Darwin was Steve Waugh’s 37th as captain, overhauling Clive Lloyd’s record.

Boof’s beefy blade, Love’s final fling

  Darren ‘Boof’ Lehmann had scored his maiden Test ton, at the age of 33, against the West Indies at Port-of-Spain in April 2003. Three months later, he took a liking to the raw Bangladeshi attack and amassed two more centuries, ending as the series’ highest run-getter. At Darwin, he walked in at 43/2 and scored 110, while at Cairns, he top-scored with a career-best 177 from just 207 balls.

    Opener Shahriar Nafees scored 138 on the first day at Fatullah in 2005-06, as Bangladesh gave a massive scare to Australia (source – AFP/farjana godhuly)

  Also playing in the series for Australia was three-Test-old Martin Love, who, like Lehmann, was an ace batsman in the first-class arena. His outing at Darwin was forgettable as he was castled by Mashrafe Mortaza for a golden duck. However, he made amends with an unbeaten 100 at Cairns, sharing in a fifth-wicket stand of 174 with Lehmann. This would be Love’s final Test innings.

Shahriar Nafees leaves the world champions stunned

  A weary Australian side began their first Test in Bangladesh, in 2005-06, just five days after their series-sweeping win in the third Test in South Africa. It was also the first Test to be played at the Khan Shaheb Osman Ali Stadium in Fatullah. The opening day belonged to 20-year-old southpaw Shahriar Nafees, who launched into the unsuspecting bowlers with aplomb.

  At lunch, Bangladesh’s score was a scarcely believable 144/1. Nafees, uninhibited and unleashed, added 187 for the second wicket with his captain Habibul Bashar and galloped to a maiden first-class hundred in 131 balls. He was eventually dismissed for 138, lit with 19 fours, a knock that powered Bangladesh to 355/5 at stumps. The great Shane Warne was taken for 112 off 20 wicketless overs.

Gilchrist and Ponting save Australia the blushes

  Replying to Bangladesh’s 427 in the first Test at Fatullah in 2005-06, Australia were gasping for breath at 93/6. Less than a year ago, the Tigers had beaten Australia in an ODI, and now, they had reason to feel upbeat about a potentially bigger upset. Adam Gilchrist, batting at six, provided relief to his confounded teammates with a timely 144 that restricted Bangladesh’s lead to 158.

  A poor show from the Bangladeshi batsmen in the second innings brought Australia back into the game, but a target of 307 was a challenge on a deteriorating wicket. Captain Ricky Ponting calmly responded to the pressure, keeping left-arm spinner Mohammad Rafique (4/98, 9/160 in the match) at bay and constructing a restrained, unbeaten 118 to steer Australia to a tense three-wicket win.

    Jason Gillespie smiles after his record-breaking double century at Chittagong in 2005-06 (source – gettyimages/cricket.com.au)

Magical MacGill – Bangladesh’s bogeyman

  Even though he plied his trade under the shadow of Shane Warne, leg-spinner Stuart MacGill almost always delivered when given the opportunity. Bangladesh’s batsmen would know this well, for MacGill has scalped 33 wickets in four matches against them, 14 more than anyone else in Australia v Bangladesh fixtures. Moreover, he boasts of an average of 15.75 and four five-wicket hauls.

  His first assignment against Bangladesh, at Darwin in 2003, saw him pick 7/86, including 5/65 in the second innings. He bettered these in the second Test at Cairns, taking 10/133 (5/77 and 5/56) to be named player of the match and series. In 2005-06, he recorded a career-best return of 8/108 in the first innings at Fatullah, and gathered eight more from the next three innings in the series.

Dizzy’s sensational vigil enters the record books

  Having broken out of jail in the Fatullah Test, Australia restored normality at Chittagong, winning by an innings and 80 runs to seal the series. The match was notable for one of the most remarkable innings of all time – the only Test double century by a nightwatchman. This honour went to the sprightly paceman Jason Gillespie, in what was to be his last international appearance.

  ‘Dizzy’ came in at number three late on the first day, after his 3/11 had kept Bangladesh to 197. Three days later, on his 31st birthday, he was still in the middle, having doggedly batted nine hours and 34 minutes for 201*, when Australia declared at the fall of Michael Hussey, with whom he put on 320 for the fourth wicket. Before this, Gillespie had never passed 58 in first-class cricket.    

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Specials – Best of the Tests at the Bellerive Oval

  Tasmania got its first taste of Test cricket in December 1989, when Hobart’s Bellerive Oval hosted the second Test between Australia and Sri Lanka. Since then, the ground has been an occasional fixture on the Australian Test calendar, having hosted a total of 12 Tests – four against New Zealand, three each against Pakistan and Sri Lanka, and two against the West Indies.

  Australia’s record at the ground, which is also known as the Blundstone Arena, is impressive – they have won nine games and lost just once. With South Africa – who are making their maiden appearance in Hobart – taking on the hosts in the second Test of their ongoing series, let us look back at five memorable matches played at this venue, in chronological order.

Australia v Sri Lanka, Second Test, 1989-90

  This match marked the Test debut of the Bellerive Oval, which had hosted an ODI each in the previous two seasons. Sri Lanka came into this final Test of the series on the back of a confidence-boosting draw at the Gabba, where they took the first-innings lead thanks Aravinda de Silva’s 167.

  Fast-medium pace bowler Rumesh Ratnayake produced an excellent spell of 6/66 as Australia were bowled out for 224 on the first day after being inserted by Arjuna Ranatunga. No batsman could manage a fifty. Sri Lanka crashed to 18/3 in reply before de Silva (75) joined forces with Roshan Mahanama (85) to share in a stand of 128 for the fourth wicket.

  However, the visitors lost their last six wickets for just 28, thus conceding a narrow lead of eight runs. After an eventful second day, Australia were 25/2 in their second innings and the match seemed to be heading towards an exciting conclusion. But the Australian batsmen had other ideas as they went about piling the runs in right earnest.

  While Mark Taylor (108) and captain Allan Border (85) added 163 for the fourth wicket to put their team in the driver’s seat, Dean Jones (118*) and Steve Waugh (134*) ensured that the innings went into overdrive mode with an unbroken sixth-wicket partnership of 260 at 4.5 an over. The declaration came at 513/5, leaving Sri Lanka with a target of 522.

  Sri Lanka put up a brave fight, but it was never going to be enough. Resuming the final day at 166/3, they were bowled out for 348 in the final session after losing their last four wickets for 16. De Silva, who was rightly named man of the series, starred again with 72, while Ravi Ratnayake top-scored with 75. Merv Hughes led the way for the hosts with 5/88.

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    The Bellerive Oval in Hobart has hosted 12 Test matches since 1989-90, of which Australia have won nine and lost only one (source – abc.net.au)

Australia v New Zealand, Third Test, 1997-98

  Australia had sealed the series with convincing wins at Brisbane and Perth, and nearly made it three out of three at Hobart. In what was a rain-affected Test, Australia totalled 400 after batting first. The cornerstone of the innings was a second-wicket stand of 197 between Matthew Elliott (114) and Greg Blewett (99). Mark Waugh chipped in with 81.

  With the match petering out to a draw, Stephen Fleming dangled the carrot in front of the Australians late on the fourth day. The New Zealand captain declared his team’s first innings at 251/6, in which Matthew Horne (133) was the standout performer with a maiden Test ton. Host captain Mark Taylor himself declared at 138/2 at lunch on the final day.

  Two sessions now remained in the match, with New Zealand needing 288 runs to win and Australia ten wickets. The Kiwis got off to a flyer, with openers Horne and Nathan Astle blasting 72 off 52 balls. It was too good to last though, as the score quickly slid to 95/4. Shane Warne was coming into his own and the visitors thought it wise to give up their victory hopes.

  Adam Parore and Roger Twose had almost steered their team to safety with a seventh-wicket stand of 66, but a final twist was in store. Three wickets fell for six runs and New Zealand had only one wicket in the bank with 38 minutes to play. A whitewash was narrowly averted as the last pair of Simon Doull and Shane O’Connor defied the wiles of Warne (5/88), the innings ending at 223/9.

Australia v Pakistan, Second Test, 1999-00

  After clinching a ten-wicket win in the series opener, Australia looked certain to lose before an amazing last-day fightback from Justin Langer and Adam Gilchrist gave them a famous win. Steve Waugh inserted Pakistan in and his bowlers did not disappoint, limiting the total to 222. Opener Mohammed Wasim made an attacking 91.

  In reply, Australia were in a commanding position at 191/1 with Michael Slater (97) and Langer (59) in ominous form. But Pakistan somehow conjured a comeback, guided by off-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq (6/46). Australia were dismissed for 246, losing their last eight wickets for 40.Pakistan then took control of the game with a solid batting display in the second innings.

  Saeed Anwar (78) took charge at the top before Inzamam-ul-Haq (118) and Ijaz Ahmed (82) put on 136 for the fourth wicket. Shane Warne (5/110) bowled impressively, but Pakistan went on to score 392. Australia needed 369 to win the Test and the series, which looked a distant dream when they fell to 126/5 on the fourth evening.

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      Playing only his second Test, Adam Gilchrist smashed 149* off 163 balls to help Australia chase down 369 against Pakistan in 1999-00 (source – yahoocricket)

  They began the final day at 188/5 and Pakistan were well on top. But the overnight batsmen, Langer and Gilchrist, were not deterred and went on to add a record 238 runs for the sixth wicket. While Langer made a solid 127, it was Gilchrist’s assault that jolted Pakistan. The wicket-keeper cracked an unbeaten 149 off 163 balls – a marvellous knock given the situation.

  The Australians eventually reached 369/6 – then the third-highest fourth-innings victory chase – as Pakistan were left to rue their misfortune. There was controversy early on the final morning, when Langer appeared to have been wrongly reprieved following a caught-behind appeal off captain Wasim Akram. Australia went on to sweep the series 3-0.

Australia v Sri Lanka, Second Test, 2007-08

  Australia won the two-Test series 2-0, but not before Sri Lanka made a valiant attempt to chase down a massive target. The home batsmen put the Sri Lankan bowling attack to the sword after winning the toss, amassing 542/5 before Ricky Ponting decided that they had batted enough.

  Opener Phil Jaques struck a career-best 150, and was involved in a third-wicket partnership of 152 with Michael Hussey, who made 132. Michael Clarke, Andrew Symonds and Adam Gilchrist hit brisk fifties to further put Sri Lanka under the pump. Captain Mahela Jayawardene stood up to the task by scoring 104, but his side faced a deficit of 296 after the first innings.

  Australia opted to bat again and galloped to 210/2, declaring before lunch on the fourth day. Marvan Atapattu (80) and Kumar Sangakkara showed resolve in pursuit of an unlikely 507, as they put on 143 for the second wicket. Sangakkara was looking in great touch and ended the day at 109*, Sri Lanka’s score reading 247/3.

  Australia, hungry for their 14th successive Test match win, wrested the initiative on the fifth day, sparking a collapse to send Sri Lanka from 265/3 to 290/8 even as Sangakkara batted on with assurance. The ninth wicket fetched 74 runs, as Sangakkara and Lasith Malinga engaged in an entertaining counterattack.

  Only a poor umpiring decision stopped Sangakkara from reaching his seventh double hundred, as he was adjudged out for a brilliant 192 after the ball deflected from his shoulder and hit the helmet before being snapped in the slips. Sri Lanka were eventually dismissed for 410. Brett Lee, who was named man of the match and series, finished with 4/87, taking his match figures to 8/169.

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     Doug Bracewell celebrates a wicket at Hobart in 2011-12 even as David Warner looks on. New Zealand won a thriller by just seven runs (source – pakistantoday.com.pk)

Australia v New Zealand, Second Test, 2011-12

  Coming into this match, Australia were favourites to take the rubber after an easy nine-wicket win in the first Test. Michael Clarke had no hesitation in putting New Zealand in to bat on a grassy wicket. The hosts’ pace trio of James Pattinson (5/51), Peter Siddle and Mitchell Starc proceeded to destroy New Zealand’s top order – they crashed to 60/6 in the first session itself.

  Dean Brownlie stemmed the rot with a gutsy 56 from number six. He shepherded the tail and was the only one to cross 20. The innings wound up at 150 before the first day ended prematurely due to rain, Australia being 12/1. The second day was again dominated by the bowlers as the Australian batsmen failed to cope with the visiting bowlers’ pace and swing. 

  The batting order imploded as the score slid to 75/7. Chris Martin, Trent Boult and Doug Bracewell took three wickets each. It took a 56-run stand for the eighth wicket between Siddle and Pattinson to revive the final total to 136. With New Zealand leading by just 14, the Test was now akin to a second-dig shootout. They lost their top three with 73 on the board in the second innings.

  Captain Ross Taylor steadied the ship, scoring 56. From 171/4, New Zealand regressed to 226 all out, which left Australia with seven sessions to score 241. By stumps on the third day, openers Phil Hughes and David Warner cruised to 72/0, thus providing the perfect start to the chase. At 159/2 and with Warner and Ricky Ponting in the middle, the game was Australia’s to lose.

  However, 21-year-old Bracewell, playing only his third Test, went on to bowl a game-changing spell. He finished with 6/40, scalping Ponting, Clarke and Michael Hussey – the latter two in successive balls – even as Warner fought on. Three wickets had fallen for no run and the game was wide open. Except for Warner, no batsman crossed 23.

  Another catastrophic slide from 192/5 to 199/9 seemed to be the final blow for the hosts. But Warner, who carried his bat in vain for 123 off 170 balls, and Lyon added 34 to ignite hope among the spectators before Bracewell castled Lyon with tea approaching to script a seven-run win for New Zealand – their first against Australia in 19 years.

Record Book – Adam Gilchrist, the most prolific World Cup finalist

  Australia are the only team to have won the ICC World Cup three times in a row, and three players – Ricky Ponting, Glenn McGrath and Adam Gilchrist – have had the privilege of being part of each of the three winning sides.

  Ponting of course was the captain in 2003 – when he creamed an unbeaten 140 in the final – and 2007. McGrath has taken a combined total of six wickets in the three finals – most notably the catch off his own bowling to dismiss Sachin Tendulkar in the very first over in 2003. But the most successful player in World Cup finals is Gilchrist, arguably the greatest wicketkeeper-batsman to have played the game.

  In the 1999 final at Lord’s, Australia bowled out Pakistan for a paltry 132. Gilchrist pouched two catches behind the wicket – Inzamam ul Haq off the bowling of Paul Reiffel and Moin Khan off Shane Warne. He then ensured that this would be the shortest World Cup final ever, as he proceeded to hammer the demoralised Pakistani bowlers in typical fashion.

  Opening the innings with Mark Waugh, Gilchrist began by cracking two boundaries off Wasim Akram in the third over. Shoaib Akhtar, who was in top form in the semifinal against New Zealand, bore the brunt as well as Gilchrist cut a quick, short ball over the ropes for six and followed it with another boundary the next ball in his third over. The introduction of Abdul Razzaq and Azhar Mahmood made no difference, as Gilchrist continued his boundary spree.

zmilly     Adam Gilchrist during his innings of 54 in the 1999 World Cup final against Pakistan (source – india-forums.com)

  In the tenth over, he brought up his fifty from just 33 balls with a boundary over mid wicket off Razzaq. The score galloped to 75/0 in the first ten overs itself, and it looked as if only one team had turned up to play the match. Saqlain Mushtaq’s first ball brought an end to Gilchrist’s breezy knock, as the batsman miscued one to mid off. But the damage had been done – his 54 coming from only 36 balls with eight fours and a six. Victory was only a formality, and Australia needed only 20.1 overs to seal a thumping eight-wicket win.

  Four years later, Australia found themselves in the final again, this time against India at the Wanderers in Johannesburg. Ponting’s world-class bunch had been unbeaten throughout the tournament and were overwhelming favourites to successfully defend their title. Buoyed by the excellent performance of his pace bowlers in the tournament thus far, Indian captain Sourav Ganguly elected to field first. But Gilchrist put paid to any hopes India had of gaining the upper hand early on.

  This time having Matthew Hayden as his opening partner, Gilchrist faced Zaheer Khan in the first over. Zaheer’s nerves got the better of him as he gave away two no-balls and six wides in what turned out to be a ten-ball over. Against Gilchrist, this was criminal. Australia got the start they wanted, and Gilchrist and Hayden gave a perfect launchpad to the innings. Both Zaheer and Javagal Srinath were tonked around the park by the left-handed duo, with Gilchrist being the more dominating batsman.

  Srinath, who had given away just eight runs in his first two overs, came in for special treatment from Gilchrist. In the bowler’s third over, he hit two boundaries and followed it up with two boundaries and a six in his next over. In eight overs, the score read 66/0, with Gilchrist getting 43 runs of those in just 30 balls. He reached his fifty with a double off Ashish Nehra in the 13th over of the innings. He drove Harbhajan Singh for another four to bring up Australia’s hundred in a mere 13.4 overs.

  In the same over, Gilchrist misjudged one from the off-spinner and skied it to Virender Sehwag, getting out for 57 off 48 balls with eight fours and a six. Hayden followed soon after, but the Indians were already sapped and it was to only get tougher for them as Ponting and Damien Martyn put on unbeaten 234 for the third to propel Australia to 359/2 and eventually a 125-run win. Gilchrist took one catch, off Glenn McGrath, to dismiss Mohammed Kaif.

zpillu   Gilchrist gave Australia yet another flying start in the 2003 World Cup final against India (source – alchetron.com)

  More than his batting, Gilchrist in the 2003 World Cup will be forever remembered for his sportsman spirit – he famously walked after being given not out, as he was aware that he had edged Aravinda de Silva’s delivery to wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara. He finished the tournament with 408 runs from ten matches, the fourth highest tally. His highest score was 99 – run out – against Sri Lanka in the Super Six round. A World Cup century still eluded him.

  This was to change in the final of the 2007 World Cup. Prior to the game, his performance in the tournament was a middling one – 304 runs from ten innings, with half-centuries against Netherlands and Bangladesh. As in 2003, Australia had been unbeaten in the tournament, and had swept aside every team they countered. At the Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, the two-time defending champions faced Sri Lanka, their third different Asian opposition in a World Cup final.

  A rain delay meant that the match was reduced to 38 overs a side. Ponting won the toss and had no hesitation to bat first. The start was sedate, as Gilchrist and Hayden – who was the tournament’s leading run scorer – took only four runs off the first two overs. In the third over, Gilchrist took off as he crunched a boundary followed by a six over mid-on in successive balls from Chaminda Vaas. Two more fours followed in the next Vaas over, and it was already evident that Gilchrist was going to make his last World Cup match special.

  Lasith Malinga was bowling tightly at the other end – his first four overs went for just six runs – and the score after ten overs was 46/0. Gilchrist, who was on 31 off 30 balls, launched into Dilhara Fernando in the eleventh over. He began by clouting a full toss to mid-wicket for four, then another four off a half-volley past long-on and followed it with a huge six over long-on. This was vintage Gilchrist, and just like 2003, he had succeeded in firmly putting the pressure on the opposition in the first ten overs.

  Hayden, who had bludgeoned bowling attacks in the tournament, was happy to play second fiddle this time. When Gilchrist reached his fifty from 43 balls with a single off Muttiah Muralitharan in the 14th over, Hayden was on 18 from 37 balls. Tillekaratne Dilshan’s too failed to have an effect on Gilchrist, as he was hit for two massive sixes straight over his head. As Australia reached 95/0 in 15 overs, Sri Lankan shoulders began to droop. Gilchrist was in his element, and nothing looked like stopping him.

zzilly      Gilchrist’s best World Cup innings – a blitzing 149 – came against Sri Lanka in the final of the 2007 World Cup (source – cricket.com.au)

  Fernando returned for another spell looking to break the stand, but instead Gilchrist greeted him by thumping a six over long-off followed by four straight down the ground. Similar treatment awaited Fernando in his next over, and his figures read a sorry 5-0-56-0. At the end of 20 overs, Australia were cruising at 137/0 – Gilchrist 96, Hayden 31. Malinga came back in the 21st over, and he too was not spared.

  Off the third ball of the 21st over, Gilchrist brought up his first World Cup hundred off 72 balls by smashing a boundary over mid-off. But he was hungry for more as he lashed another flurry of boundaries off Vaas and Malinga in the next two overs. Malinga finally broke the partnership – which fetched 172 – by dismissing Hayden for 38. After a quiet couple of overs, Gilchrist resumed his charge, now collecting two sixes off Sanath Jayasuriya. With eight overs to go, the score was 222/1 and Sri Lanka were down for the count.

  It was Fernando who eventually got his man, as he skied the third ball of the 31st over straight to Chamara Silva at mid-wicket. His astounding innings – 149 off 104 balls, with 13 fours and 8 sixes – created a new record for the highest score in a World Cup final, going past the 140* scored in 2003 by Ponting, who was the man at the other end. His eight sixes also equalled Ponting’s effort in that same innings. He later said that a squash ball inside his glove helped his cause.

  Gilchrist chose the perfect platform to produce one of the great World Cup innings, and his assault led Australia to 281/4 from their 38 overs. Sri Lanka ultimately fell 53 runs short on the D/L method as the match ended in a farce in near-darkness, much to the embarrassment of the organisers and umpires. Gilchrist added two catches – to dismiss Upul Tharanga off Nathan Bracken and Russel Arnold off McGrath – and a stumping to dismiss Malinga off Andrew Symonds to go with his match-winning knock, and was the obvious choice for Man of the Match.

  Three finals, 260 runs at an average of 86.66 and a strike rate of 138.29, with two fifties and a scintillating hundred. Not to mention six dismissals behind the wicket. Numbers that establish Adam Gilchrist’s standing as the most productive World Cup finalist. On the all-time World Cup run charts, he sits sixth with 1085 runs at 36.16, while his 52 dismissals are the most by a wicketkeeper. 

  Clearly, Gilchrist loved the big occasion like few others, and his cumulative achievements in the summit clashes of the World Cup will be highly difficult to surpass.

Watch Gilchrist’s 149 in the 2007 finalhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=egxEfBI3hyk