© Getty Images
© Getty Images

Bangladesh had received their Test status just three years back, and since had played 19 Tests drawing just one and losing the rest. Playing Australia Down Under was a huge challenge for Khaled Mahmud’s team. The series was special for Australia too, as they were playing at two new Test venues. Bangladesh’s first Australia experience took place in TIO Stadium, Darwin. Australia won the toss and sent the visitors to bat first to make good use of the new ball on the fresh pitch and during their maiden batting experience in Australia, Bangladesh failed expectedly.

A bowling attack consisting Glenn McGrath, Jason Gillespie and Brett Lee at home was dangerous for any side at that point and for the novice Bangladesh, who were yet to register their maiden Test win, the trouble seemed to have doubled up. Bangladesh lost their first wicket within 5 overs and thereafter, they kept losing wickets in regular intervals. Mohammad Ahsraful’s 23 was the highest score by any batsman in the innings and Bangladesh were bundled for 97 in 42.2 overs, with only four players being able to register double-digit scores. McGrath and Lee bagged 3 wickets each, while Stuart MacGill, with his googlies, got 2. Gillespie got as many as MacGill, Australia did not require a fifth bowler.

However, Bangladesh started off well with the new ball. Mathew Hayden (11) was the first to give away his wicket as a young Mashrafe Mortaza found his way to Hayden’s stumps. Before Australia could put up 50 runs on the board, Bangladesh picked up their second wicket, getting Ricky Ponting out for 10. Things seemed to have taken an unexpected turn as Australia were reduced to 43 for 2. However, those few overs were Bangladesh’s moments of joy in the innings. Justin Langer finally found a partner in Darren Lehmann to build team’s first strong partnership. Langer fell for 71 but Lehmann completed his century and was removed for 110 by Mortaza. Mortaza struck again in the same over to send Martin Love back for a golden duck. But Steve Waugh and Adam Gilchrist pulled their side up with yet another crucial partnership. They took the team’s score past 300 before Gilchrist was dismissed for 43. Waugh declared the innings for 407 for 7 as soon as he reached his century, remaining unbeaten. Nevertheless, Mortaza’s 3-for was the highlight of the innings for Bangladesh.

Bangladesh put up a better performance in the next innings with the bat but not good enough to save it. The partnership between Hannan Sarkar (35) and Habibul Bashar (54) showed some promise but Gillespie broke it before Bangladesh could reach a team score of 100. Stuart MacGill ran through the line-up, ending the innings with a 5-for. Bangladesh, ironically, again had only four batsmen with double-digit scores, the other two being Al Sahariar (36) and Mortaza (15).

Though the match ended in a defeat by an innings and 132 runs for Bangladesh, they had positives to take from it. They found Mortaza, who bowled well in foreign land, the experienced Bashar showed enough grit on his Australia debut. They put up a fight against a team that is regarded as one of the finest to have played on the greens.

Brief scores:

Bangladesh 97 (Mohammad Ashraful 23, Khaled Mahmud 21; Glenn McGrath 3 for 20, Jason Gillespie 2 for 57, Brett Lee 3 for 23, Stuart MacGill 2 for 21) and 178 (Hannan Sarkar 35, Habibul Bashar 54, Al Shahariar 36; Jason Gillespie 2 for 48, Stuart MacGill 5 for 65) lost to Australia 407 for 7 decl. (Justin Langer 71, Darren Lehmann 110, Steve Waugh 100*, Adam Gilchrist 43; Mashrafe Mortaza 3 for 74) by an innings and 132 runs.