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 – Bangladesh’s near-misses

  Bangladesh suffered yet another series sweep after a tame 10-wicket defeat to the West Indies in the second Test at Khulna. Though there was success for individuals like Sohag Gazi (who took 9 wickets on debut) and Abul Hasan (who scored a stunning hundred from No.10 on debut), Bangaldesh failed again as collective unit. Bangladesh’s struggles as a Test nation have continued for 12 years now, and their record is a dismal 65 losses in 75 Tests.

  However there were a few instances where Bangladesh actually had a big chance of winning a Test, only to lose in the end. Here we look at five Tests where Bangladesh contrived to lose in spite of having a great chance of victory:-

1. Lost to Pakistan by 1 wicket, Multan 2003

  This is probably Bangladesh’s most heart-breaking Test loss. The three match series was already won 2-0 by Pakistan coming into this final Test. A determined 72 by Habibul Bashar led Bangladesh to a fighting 281 before Mohammed Rafique (5/36) and Khaled Mahmud (4/37) combined to skittle the hosts out for just 175. With a healthy lead of 106, Bangladesh needed to capitalise, but instead they folded for 154, with quickies Umar Gul and Shabbir Ahmed picking 4 wickets each.

  In pursuit of a tricky 262, Pakistan were in for an upset loss when they ended Day 3 at 148/6. But one man, Inzamam ul Haq, on his home ground stood between Bangladesh and a historic win. Inzamam put on 41 for the 8th wicket with Shabbir and a further 52 with Gul for the 9th. The score was 257/9 when last man Yasir Ali, on debut, came in to join Inzamam. The big man kept his cool, steering his side to a thrilling, last gasp 1-wicket win, finishing unbeaten on 138.

2. Lost to Australia by 3 wickets, Fatullah 2005-06

shahriar_nafees     Shahriar Nafees made a stunning 138 against the mighty Aussies in 2005-06 (source – bbc.co.uk)

  This was the ultimate David vs Goliath battle. Bangladesh came up with a rousing start in this match and almost looked certain to slay the then world champions, before the Australians realised that could not lose to the underdogs. Bangladesh smashed 355/5 on the first day before being bowled out for 427, Shahriar Nafees making a brilliant 138. The legendary Shane Warne was stunningly attacked and went for almost 6 an over – it was fellow spinner Stuart MacGill who took 8/108. The Tigers then had Australia at 93/6 – a usual team would have definitely won from this position against another usual team – but this was bottom-of-the-table Bangladesh taking on the best team in the world.

  Adam Gilchrist however cracked 144 to help Australia get to 269. With a big lead in place, a nauseatingly familiar script was followed by the hosts – they collapsed for only 148. Yet they managed to have Australia at 231/6 in their chase of 307 – but just like Inzamam in Multan, it was skipper Ricky Ponting here who made 118 not out to help his side to victory. Bangladesh had snatched defeat from the jaws of victory and that too against the champions.

3. Lost to South Africa by 5 wickets, Dhaka 2007-08newpic790         Shahadat Hossain’s 6/27 gave a scare to South Africa at Dhaka in 2007-08

  Again Bangladesh took a first innings lead – albeit a narrow one this time – and again they managed to lose. South Africa replied to Bangladesh’s 192 (Morne Morkel 5/50) with a total of only 170, with paceman Shahadat Hossain bagging an excellent 6/27. The Bangladesh batsmen were however not up to mark, and they could only garner 182 in the second dig – Jacques Kallis picking 5/30. South Africa comfortably reached 205/5 to win the game by 5 wickets, and Bangladesh were left to rue once again.

4. Lost to New Zealand by 3 wickets, Chittagong 2008-09

  The same pattern followed in this Test too, as Bangladesh failed to defend 316 in the second innings. The hosts got a 74 run lead in the first innings after Shakib al Hasan took a sensational 7/36 – the best Test analysis by a Bangladeshi – to bundle out the Black Caps for 171 in reply to their 245 (Mehrab Hossain jnr 83, Mushfiqur Rahim 79). The hosts then managed 242 in the second innings, setting New Zealand a tricky 317. Aaron Redmond (79) and Daniel Vettori (76) ensured there was no collapse this time, and steered New Zealand to a 3-wicket win.

AlHasanShakib_081021_bowling_AI300          Shakib al Hasan’s record 7/36 against New Zealand in 2008-09 went in vain

5. Lost to India by 113 runs, Chittagong 2009-10

  Virender Sehwag had remarked before the game that Bangladesh were an ordinary side. The Tigers got back at him by bowling India out for 243 (Sachin Tendulkar 105*) , with Shahadat and Shakib taking 5 scalps each. They then replied with 242 – just one run behind and the game in balance. However the game drifted away from the hosts, as India declared at 413/8, setting a target of 414. Mushfiqur made an entertaining 101, but it was not enough as Bangladesh were dismissed for 301, losing by 113 runs.