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Australia vs Bangladesh series starting October 3

941   //    02 Aug 2015, 22:15 IST
Bangladesh cricketers Shakib Al Hasan (2R) and Mustafizur Rahman (R) celebrate the dismissal of South Africa cricketer Simon Harmer during the first day of the first Test match between Bangladesh and South Africa
Bangladesh cricketers Shakib Al Hasan (2R) and Mustafizur Rahman (R) celebrate the dismissal of South Africa cricketer Simon Harmer during the first day of the first Test match between Bangladesh and South Africa/Getty

Early today, in an announcement from the Cricket boards of Australia and Bangladesh, it was revealed that Aussies will visit Bangladesh for a two-match test series starting October 3. The tour plan includes a three-day warm-up match before the actual test series. The first test will be held from Oct 9-13 in the Chittagong stadium and the second match in the capital city of Bangladesh, Dhaka, from Oct 17-21. 

There has not been a bilateral test series between the two nations since the last 9 years. The first series was held around  the middle of the year (July-Aug) in 2003 in Australia.The Bangladesh team played under the leadership of the all-rounder Khaled Mahmud and Australia was led by the legendary Steve R Waugh. The first test was held in Marrara stadium, Darwin. This was the first time that a test match was held outside the Australian capital city. The pitch for the match was airlifted from Melbourne. Bangladesh, who were still the minnows in the world cricket scene till that time, were easily annihilated by the superior side. Two centuries by Australian batsmen Darren Lehmann and Steve Waugh sealed the fate of the match, which was over by the third day. Except for a bit of resistance from the fast bowler Mashrafe Mortaza, who ended with the figure of 3/74, there was hardly anything to show from the Bangladesh team.

With that century in the first test, Steve Waugh became the second batsmen in the world (at that time) to have a century against each of the 9 test playing nations. The first player being Gary Kirsten.

Steve was quoted like this after the match:

“If you play long enough you are going to reach milestones and records are going to be passed and I'm sure someone down the track will beat those. But it is nice to achieve things and to score a hundred against every country is something I'm proud of. I'm not too concerned about records. I just want to go out there and play well and I've said if I don't think I can improve then I shouldn't be there.”

The second test ended with the same result as the first one, but this time Bangladesh batting line up showed up some spine and ended at 295 at the end of first innings.  From Australia’s side spinner, Stuart MacGill picked up  second consecutive five-wicket haul. Australia had a minor hiccup at the start with figures of 105/2. But, Lehmann and Waugh again came to the rescue scoring 177 and 156 respectively. With this century, Steve Waugh, surpassed Sachin’s record of 32 centuries, till that time, of course. Macgill ended with 17 wickets from the two tests. 

The second series was held in 2006 in Bangladesh. The tour had started on a sour note. Ricky Ponting, the Australian captain had questioned the status of Bangladesh as a test playing nation. He was quoted as saying:

“What I would not have is the minnow nations in the World Cup and the Champions Trophy, and I would not have Bangladesh and Zimbabwe playing Tests at present.”

Bangladesh was captained by Habibul Bashar. The minnows showed extraordinary stuff in the first test match. They were actually just a step behind from causing an upset. Bangladesh batted first and ramped up a competitive score of 427 in 123 odd overs.Shahriar Nafees pitched in with a well fought century.  In reply, the Australians were bundled out for just  269, with the major contribution from Adam Gilchrist, 144. None of the other Australian batsmen could score more than 30 runs. 

Second innings start was disastrous for the hosts. They scored a paltry 148 (50 overs). Australians despite the regular fall of wickets managed to reach the target with 3 wickets to spare.

Next match was played at the Chittagong stadium, Chittagong. Again the Bangladesh team decided to bat first, ending the first innings at 197 in just 60 odd overs. This time Australia gave no chance to the hosts and declared their innings with a mammoth score of 581. Jason Gillespie became the highest scoring night-watchmen  in the history of the test cricket.He scored his first test and first-class double century. The second innings of Bangladesh team was wrapped up by the Australian bowlers led by Shane Warne (5/108). Australia won that match by an innings and 80 runs.

This was also the last test match of Jason Gillespie. He was awarded the man-of-the-match for his double century. 

But, much has changed in the sub-continent since the last encounter. Bangladesh team has finally shed its minnows tag. They humbled the major teams leading up to the October tour. 

They have won four consecutive series held in Bangladesh. South Africans were sent packing back by the new resurgent Bangladesh team in their recent tour.India also tasted defeat for the first time in a bilateral series in Bangladesh. So, the intent is pretty clear. Bangladesh is no longer a push over team. Australians will have to fire all their canons to overcome the juggernaut that is Bangladesh.

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