Shakib Al Hasan’s second ball of Australia’s 71st over pitched on a half-volley length and outside off. Ashton Agar went on the front foot and thrashed through the covers for four and brought up Australia’s 200, a score which was impossible to think of a few hours back.
Two balls later, Shakib pitched one outside off on a good length and spun it back into Agar. But Agar went back and toe-ended it back to the bowler. The 23-year old lad from Victoria scripted yet another spirited fight back with the bat like Nottingham four years ago.
There was no sign of nerves and rush of blood from Agar, but his brief stay at the crease conveyed a clear message to the Australian top order, there is no demon underneath the Mirpur and it was still a decent track to bat on if a batsman occupies the crease. Agar occupied the crease, played the ball according to its merit and used his feet very well to stitch a face-saving partnership for his team. Australia ended their innings with 217 on the board from a pathetic 144 for 8.
Bangladesh came out to bowl on the second day with the killer instincts which they gained in the twilight of Day 1. What Australia needed to do was exhibit composure. But sadly, they switched to a rather Big Bash League mode and threw away their wickets. Without a doubt, Bangladesh bowled well, but if anyone witnesses the dismissals of Australia’s top order batsmen, one would agree, it was more self-destructive than brilliant bowling.
David Warner’s mistake of playing for the turn
In the second ball of sixth over of Australia’s innings on Day 1, Mehedi Hasan Miraz dished out a pacey delivery, not effective enough to fetch a wicket, which kissed the edge before hitting the back leg of David Warner. Aleem Daar responded to Bangladesh’s vociferous appeal by raising the finger but he had to change his decision as the video replay showed a big inside edge.
Warner was beaten because of playing for the turn where there wasn’t any.
Miraz’s third ball was similar and Warner repeated the mistake of playing for the turn. He made the same error in Sri Lanka against Rangana Herath and Sandakan last year. Surely, the lesson has not been learned. Midway through his 14th Test on the continent, Warner’s average in Asia is 29.55.
Usman Khawaja’s brainfade
Usman Khawaja was supposed to weather the storm and ensure solidity. But four balls later, he fell in an absurd fashion. Padding up to a Shakib Al Hasan delivery, Khawaja called Matt Renshaw for a single that was never there. Renshaw sent his partner back, but by then it was too late for Usman and was run out in a comical fashion. A team automatically falls under pressure when the number three batsman suffers an absolute brainfade.
Steve Smith’s dancing move
Steve Smith loves to dominate the bowlers and over the years, he has established himself as one of the best batsmen in the world. In India, he took his batting to a different level by exhibiting a tremendous amount of patience, composure and technical correctness on rank-turners. His century at Pune would always remain as one of the finest knocks of this year. But those heroics in India were absent in Mirpur.
Smith started off in a confident manner by cracking a boundary against Shafiul Islam, but as soon as he started to gain his momentum, he lost it completely, by attempting a rash shot. There was no need to charge down the wicket against a Mehedi-delivery, which demanded to stay back and play with a straight bat. Smith danced down the wicket, misjudged the line and executed a cross-batted whip. He was bowled for eight. Not a responsible stroke from the captain of the team.
Peter Handscomb’s unnecessary shuffle across the wicket
Peter Handscomb and Renshaw arrested a collapse for a while. But Handscomb’s footwork against Bangladesh bowlers was unorthodox and dangerous. He was shuffling too much across the crease and at times, was lucky to survive. Those lucky escapes were a reminder to become careful. But Handscomb continued to shuffle and exposed his back foot only to get rapped lbw against Taijul Islam.
Glenn Maxwell and Mathew Wade let Australia sink into the mire
Shakib dismissed the dangerous Renshaw by exposing his outside edge and what Australia needed was a desperate fight back from their lower middle-order batters. Glenn Maxwell and Mathew Wade needed to calm their nerves and stay at the wicket. But Wade’s problems against drifters persisted as he was undone by one of Mehedi’s drifter.
The worse was, Maxwell prevented him from taking a review whereas the replay showed, the ball pitched slightly outside the line and missing leg stump. Wade consulted with his partner who from the non-striker’s end could not read the turn well.
Then Maxwell perished soon after a while attempting a Big Bash shot by charging down the wicket against Shakib and was stumped.
It was a poor exhibition of batsmanship.
Thankfully, Agar and Pat Cummins gave the Australian score card a bit of respectability to keep them alive in the competition.