Fri, Jul 18, 2003 - Page 24 News List

Bangladesh faces a major challenge in top-ranked Aussies


It could be the most one-sided test match in cricket history when top-rated Australia and bottom-ranked Bangladesh meet for the first time today.

Some Australian bookmakers are offering odds of about 17-to-1 that Australia will romp to victory on the first day.

Steve Waugh thinks otherwise.

"From our point of view we are very happy to go out there and play a proper game of cricket, respect the opposition," Australia's veteran captain said yesterday after training at Darwin's Marrara Oval pitch.

"It's not going to be as easy as people talk about so we're prepared for a tough test match."

But even though Bangladesh is ranked last out of the world's 10 test-playing nations, world No. 1 Australia will not temper its take-no-prisoners approach in the two-test series.

"A lot of our test matches finish in less than five days so that is our goal -- to finish the test match off as quickly as we can," Waugh said.

"I don't know when that's going to be -- it may go in their favor -- but that's our plan always to go into a test match play aggressive positive cricket and try to finish it early.''

Bangladesh captain and all-rounder Khaled Mahmud said his team would not be overawed by Waugh's all-conquering team during the two-test series in northern Australia.

"It is just another game, just another test series for us," he said. "We are not too nervous."

Mahmud brushed off the speculation of a lopsided contest.

"We don't think about it too much," he said.

"We just think about what we want to improve and we want to improve our individual performances."

Bangladesh's Australian-born coach, Dav Whatmore, said winning wasn't everything for cricket's least developed nation.

Whatmore, a former test batsman who coached Sri Lanka to a World Cup victory in 1996, said he is trying to teach his talented young squad that test cricket involves graft, not just glory shots.

"I am not all that happy when certain batsmen take soft options and don't want to fight it out," he said.

"There is no disgrace if you do get beaten against a team like Australia, not in my mind. As long as these boys are really keen to improve their own game by going about it the right way."

So far on its tour of Australia, Bangladesh has performed fairly well -- bouncing back from a loss in its first match to record back-to-back victories, including last-week's low-scoring encounter against the Northern Territory Chief Minister's XI captained by up and coming New South Wales batsman Michael Clarke.

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