Australia today won the first ever test match in the Northern Territory, finishing off Bangladesh with a modest 178.
Bangladesh now slumps to their 14th consecutive test defeat and adding to their woeful record of matches lost within 3 days. Although the innings and 132-run defeat does not read well, Bangladesh will take some confidence away from the fight they put up in the second innings.
The day started with Habibul Bashar and Hannan Sarker continuing their partnership from overnight. Sarker was on 29 and compatriot Bashar on 26. Last night Bashar was lucky to survive after numerous LBW calls turned down, and an obvious caught behind that came off his gloves also getting a shake of the head by umpire David Shepherd. The pair could only add 19 to their overnight score before Hannan Sarker went for a drive off Jason Gillespie. The ball took the edge and was taken in remarkable style, Adam Gilchrist diving full stretch in front of first-slip Martin Love to have Bangladesh 2/89.
This brought 18-year-old Mohammad Ashraful to the crease. Ashraful top scored with 23 in the first innings and was looking for a big score here in the second. Ashraful has had high expectations from Bangladeshi fans ever since a scintillating hundred on debut against Muralitharan and the Sri Lankans. At this time Bashar was trying to pull every ball but rarely succeeding. He was in the thirties as Ashraful tried to hook a Glenn McGrath bouncer. After another hook that took the top-edge, went over the keepers head for four, he steadied, playing every ball on its merits. Bashar at the other end was playing some shots but struggling at the same time. Bashar pushed his way through the forties and reached his twelfth one-day half-century.
Soon after, Ashraful was on his way, failing to get out of the way of a Brett Lee thunderbolt. It took his gloves while trying to avoid as the two of them only put on 23 for the third wicket. It left Bangladesh 3/112 in their effort to get Australia to bat again. First ball of next over Habibul Bashar was sent packing, not picking Stuart MacGill?s well-disguised googly. The ball took the back pad on the way through and then onto middle stump as Bashar could only express a rye smile. This meant that there were two new batsmen at the crease, both on a pair from the first innings. Kapali received the pair, padding up to another googly from Stuart MacGill. The ball hit him just outside off and probably was going to hit the top of off. A dubious decision none the less.
Mashud and Al Sahariah then contributed 10 before Gilchrist caught Mashud behind, leaving his bat out to dry while he was thinking whether to pull it away or not. He did so eventually at about the same time as the ball hit the toe of his bat and went straight through to Adam Gilchrist. That was MacGill?s third wicket in his last three overs.
Skipper, Khaled Mahmud then accompanied Al Sahariah at the crease and on one got a blatant edge through to Gilchrist. His bat was well away from everything but the ball and as it went passed made a very woody sound, obviously contact. But it seamed that David Shepherd forgot his hearing aids, just standing and shaking his head once more. At lunch Bangladesh had collapsed to 6/142 with Al Sahariah their last hope on 19.
A few balls after lunch, Mahmud walked across his crease trying to ply Gillespie to the leg. The ball missed his leg and clipped leg stump, as Mahmud just stood bewildered that the ball made contact. That brought Taposh Baisya to the crease and then got off the mark with a glorious drive back over Stuart MacGill?s head for 2. Taposh was removed, a little late on chopping down on a ball from Stuart MacGill as the ball struck him on the pad in front of middle.
Bangladesh?s best bowler in Australia?s innings then came out to face the music. Al Sahariah at the time was trying to score some runs with Bangladesh running out of batsman. He played a sweep high over mid-wicket and over the rope to bring up the first Bangladeshi six of the tour.
Mashrafe got into the swing of it, trying to smack everything out of the ground. He cleared the infield a few times and then went again, with McGrath running back trying to catch it but making a mess of it and in the end not getting a hand to it. A couple of balls later Mashrafe went well over long-on and about 30 rows back which impressed the locals. Mashrafe was later run out from a direct hit by Darren Lehmann, the call going to the third-umpire who caught Mashrafe just short of his ground. It brought number 11 Manjural Islam to the crease at 9/171. Al Sahariah hit a boundary during the 10th wicket stand and tried to retain the strike. The only ball that Manjural faced went safely through to the keeper. Al Sahariah was more desperate to get the score moving along now and went to heave one over mid-wicket. The ball got a top edge back down the pitch where Stuart MacGill took the caught &bowled as he got a 5-for and finished the test match midway through Day 3. Al Sahariah had a fighting knock of 36 off 52 deliveries.
The Australians later did a lap of the field giving a lot of autographs on the way. Steve Waugh was named man-of-the-match for his unbeaten century, making him the second cricketer in history to score 100 against every test nation (Gary Kirsten was the first). He was given a commemorative coin, to put on his mantelpiece, celebrating the first test in the Northern Territory and the maiden test between Australia and Bangladesh. The coin displayed both the Tiger and the Australian Coat of Arms.
The next match will be on Friday at Cairns? Bundaberg Stadium.