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    June 19, 2005

    Bangladesh upset Australia

    Bangladesh have beaten Australia by five wickets at Cardiff in the second game of the NatWest Series. Australian captain Ricky Ponting found himself in the unfamiliar position of being first at the post-match interview after a one-dayer against Bangladesh, a fate which has thus far befallen Pakistan's Wasim Akram and India's Sourav Ganguly among the first-rung cricket playing nations, the likes of Zimbabwe, Kenya and HongKong being excluded, as Bangladesh won a one-dayer for only the tenth game in their history. The game has been, perhaps rightly, included in Cricinfo's top ten biggest upsets in one-day cricket history but do you think it deserves a #1 spot?

    Man of the match, Mohammad Ashraful's brilliant run-a-ball century, took Bangladesh home. He had great support from skipper Bashar, who made 47 and Aftab Ahmed who biffed a few around towards the end, including a huge six off Gillespie to start the 50th over, which tied the scores.

    Ponting won the toss and batted first, a move which seemed surprising to me considering England have repeatedly sent Bangladesh in to bat first and thrashed them, in the two tests and in the first one-dayer. To me, it seemed as though Ponting was unsure about how the pitch would play towards the end of the game. In spite of his bowlers taking a real beating at the hands of Messrs. Smith and Jayasuriya earlier this week, he strangely opted to not give them first use of good bowling conditions.

    Bangladesh made a great start, with Mortaza trapping Gilchrist lbw in the first over. After scratchily hanging around for a little more than a dozen deliveries for his one run, Ponting went, lbw to Baishya and suddenly Australia were 9/2. The innings was steadied by Hayden and Martyn, who put on nearly 50 in ten overs. Martyn then teamed up with Clarke to take Australia to 160 at the start of the 42nd over. The Bangladeshi bowling and fielding, which had been excellent thus far, wilted under an assault from Katich and Hussey, with more than 90 runs coming off the last 10, fifty of them from the last five. Australia ended at 249, a far cry from the 300 Ponting would have anticipated when he elected to bat. Martyn topscored with 77 while Clarke made 54, Hayden 37, Katich 36 and Hussey 31. Mortaza bowled excellently, ending up with 1/33 in his 10 overs. Rafique and Aftab Ahmed rushed through their 20 overs, conceding only 79 runs. Baishya and Nazmul were quite costly, conceding 6.5 runs an over, although Baishya did pick up three wickets.

    Bangladesh's reply was sedate, with their game plan obviously being to preserve wickets. Nafees Iqbal went, caught behind trying to run a straight ball from Gillespie down to third man with two slips waiting, with the score on 17 in the 8th over. Tushar Imran, promoted a few slots up the order, took Bangladesh past the 15th over along with Javed Omar but they had not yet scored 50. Ponting had Brad Hogg bowling in the first fifteen overs, and I could not understand why he had to do that, when he had Kasprowicz to do the job.

    Imran and Omar went in fairly quick succession. Mohammad Ashraful and Habibul Bashar now had the responsibility of putting the innings on track, from 72/3 in the 21st over. They had to get nearly six an over for 29 overs. Their partnership turned the game around. While Ashraful blazed away, Habibul played extremely calmly. Australia were restricted in their bowling options, with Symonds not playing today because of a combination of a niggle, flu and indisciplined behaviour. The truth will hopefully be out soon. In his absence, Ponting had to turn to Hussey and Clarke to bowl 10 overs cheaply and also hope that Hogg would bowl his quota, not concede too many runs and pick up wickets. None of that happened, with Hogg and Clarke being spanked around for six an over and failing to pick up wickets as Bashar and Ashraful added 130 in just 23 overs to put Bangladesh within striking distance. Strangely enough, I didnt see too much short pitched bowling from the quicks.

    Bashar was out in the 44th over to some mindless running, and was nearly run out twice off the same ball. He dragged a slower ball to Ponting at midwicket and took off for a run. Ponting hit at the striker's end but Bashar seemed in. The ball rebounded towards Gilchrist and as the batsmen tried to steal a run, Gilchrist threw to Gillespie who knocked off the non-striker's end stumps with Bashar out of the crease. What if he had actually not made it to the striker's end when Ponting threw? Would he have been declared out twice off the same ball and not given an opportunity to bat in the next one-dayer?!

    Aftab Ahmed came in next and with Ashraful in sight of his first one-day century, and only the second by a Bangladeshi player in one-day cricket, he nurdled the ball around, gave it a biff a few times and even played a few ramp shots over fineleg. Ashraful got to his century and after a well deserved ovation, spent a few more minutes letting the situation sink in. I think he lost the plot in those minutes, as he got out to the very next ball he faced. At that stage, with 23 to get in 3 overs, it was a huge risk, especially given how Australia are masters of clawing their way out of a tough situation. Rafique, who came in next, struck a few blows, and avoided some last minute bouncers bowled by McGrath, to take Bangladesh close to victory with seven needed off one over. Then Aftab hit that huge six to tie the scores and a ball later, Bangladesh had won a memorable game.

    Australia will be deflated after their woeful performance so far, but they dont have enough time. They play England tomorrow and Ponting admitted that he was close to pressing the panic button.

    Reactions from Bashar, Whatmore, Ponting and Kasprowicz.

    Photos from the game.
    Thus spake Jagadish @ 10:45 AM |
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