Mon, Jul 21, 2003 - Page 19 News List

Australia cruising toward innings victory in Darwin


Bangladeshi batsman Habibul Bashar, right, is watched by Australian wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist as he hits the ball to the boundary during his innings of 54 in the first cricket Test at Marrara Oval in Darwin, yesterday. Australia won by an innings and 132 runs. PHOTO: afp

Bangladesh's fragile batting lineup crumbled yesterday on the third day of the first test as the visitors slumped to 142 for six at lunch with Australia cruising toward an innings victory.

Bangladesh resumed at 70 for one after a positive batting performance in Saturday's final session chasing an imposing target of 311 just to make Australia bat again at Darwin's Marrara Oval.

At lunch, that looked all but impossible as the world's lowest-ranked test nation succumbed to the world No. 1 Australians, sacrificing five wickets for 72 runs in the session.

Hannan Sarkar and Habibul Bashar looked untroubled for the first half hour until Sarkar (35) drove at a Jason Gillespie delivery that cut away and edged it to Adam Gilchrist, who took a sharp chance diving low to his right.

Saturday's play was dominated by centuries from Darren Lehmann and Steve Waugh as Australia built a total of 407 for seven before declaring. Waugh's innings made him only the second player, after South Africa's Gary Kirsten, to score hundreds against all nine rival test nations and moved him to level second with Sachin Tendulkar on the list of all-time century scorers with 31. Only Sunil Gavaskar with 34 has more. Promising young batsman Mohammad Ashraful was the second Bangladesh batsman to go Sunday, edging a rising Brett Lee ball to Gilchrist to fall for seven with the score on 112.

His departure sparked a collapse by Bangladesh, with Bashar falling to a Stuart MacGill googly in the next over after a well-compiled 54 followed by Alok Kopali, given out lbw to MacGill with the total still on 112 in the 36th over.

MacGill claimed his third wicket when he had wicketkeeper and former skipper Khaled Mashud (6) caught by Gilchrist with the score at 122. Al-Shariar Rokon set about restoring Bangladeshi's pride and delaying the inevitable defeat by smashing MacGill for a four and a six in one over.

Lessons learned

Bangladesh's test novices got a cricket lesson from the dominant Australians in their first ever meeting at the highest level.

"I think they learned from the first innings. They probably saw the way we played out there on that wicket," Australian captain Steve Waugh said Sunday after Bangladesh recorded innings of 97 and 178 to Australia's 407 for seven.

"There was no point in being too negative, you may as well play some shots and back yourself and have a bit of a go and they obviously did that the second innings and played much better than the first innings and looked more positive and played with more purpose so it was good from their point of view," Waugh added.

Legspinner Stuart MacGill snared five wickets Sunday as the world's No. 1 test team routed world cricket's whipping boys by an innings and 132 runs shortly after lunch on the third day.

But MacGill paid tribute to Bangladesh's batsmen.

"There's a lot of potential there and certainly at stages, particularly in the first innings, I was wondering where I could get a wicket and I think that's a credit to the Bangladeshi batsmen," he said. "It wasn't just a matter of us letting go of the ball, we had to have a strategy and think about things, so they were certainly no pushover."

MacGill may not think cricket's youngest test nation was easy to beat, but their record suggests otherwise. Sunday's defeat was a record 14th in a row and Bangladesh has yet to register a win in 20 matches since becoming a fully fledged test nation in June 2000.

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