For the third consecutive day, Mirpur was blessed with a bright sunshine. The freshness of the morning ebbed away and made the way for exhausting heat. The humidity increased with the progression of third day and Australia were sweating badly: the heat and match situation took a toll on them.
In the first ball of his second over of the day, Josh Hazlewood clutched his left side and went off for a medical treatment. Spoke person of Cricket Australia confirmed he pulled up with a “sore side” and was unlikely to return during the morning session. In fact, he did not return to bowl since then, leaving Steve Smith with limited options to test Bangladesh batters.
It was a big blow for Australia!
At 12:04 pm local time, lunch was taken. Bangladesh pocketed the session in a commendable fashion. Tamim Iqbal’s sublime touch stretched the lead and with plenty of batting to come, the visitors were expecting a target around 300 or more in the fourth innings and keeping in mind about Australia’s poor batting display in the first innings, this would be a tough one to chase for them.
But Australia are a team who always deny accepting any testing circumstances haplessly but uses their head more to find a way to bounce back. When the going gets tough, the Australians get tougher. And in the post lunch session, Australia came out all guns blazing to change the complexion of the game.
Cummins breathe fire, Tamim melts down
Steve Smith realised, if he can dismiss Tamim and Shakib Al Hasan quickly in the second session, Australia would be able to come back in the game. With Hazlewood not around, he planned to utilise his best options: Nathan Lyon and Pat Cummins with an aggressive intent and smartly.
Smith started the post lunch session with the dollies of Usman Khawaja against Tamim. His deliveries were not threatening but in instilled a false sense of complacency which would help to surprise Tamim a few overs later.
In the third over of post-lunch session, Smith brought Pat Cummins back into the attack to bowl against Tamim and the plan was to dish out perfume balls: fast and accurate missiles around the wicket which would move back in and in the last moment would change its direction by leaving the batsman.
Tamim was already taken to the complacent zone by the dollies of Khawaja and when Cummins banged a rib-snorter which kicked off the surface and astonished Tamim, who jabbed at his defence, Australia’s plan was working. The Australian appealed for a caught behind but it was turned down. They went for the review and ultra-edge confirmed Tamim’s dismissal.
The big fish had been chugged down. Australia struck gold through sheer aggression and appropriate planning.
Lyon sets up Shakib, Bangladesh lose their way
Shakib Al Hasan came out to bat and his approach was like the first innings: counterattack. The first ball he faced from Cummins was full at which he attempted a forced- drive. That attempt might have led Smith to think of setting Shakib up.
Nathan Lyon, who struggled with his line-and-length in first innings, decided to mix-up his length against Shakib. His plan was to feed Shakib with deliveries which would turn on his pads so that he starts to play by trusting the turn and attempts to attack against a ball which would not turn. The fifth ball of over 55, was delivered targeting the middle stump and it did not turn. Shakib, trusting the turn, forgot to get to the pitch of the ball and skied the ball to extra-cover where Cummins took the catch.
All of a sudden, the smooth sailing of Bangladesh became troublesome. Cummins and Lyon bowled in tandem till the drinks break to put Bangladesh under immense pressure through attacking line and variable length. It allowed Bangladesh to keep the scoring rate well, but in the meantime, gave Australia the opportunity to fetch wickets.
Bangladesh failed to absorb the pressure and stitch crucial partnerships.
They took a lead of 264 and at 109 for 2, for the first time in this Test, Australia are in a very good position.
Australia implemented their plans smartly on Day 3 and are now dreaming about taking a 1-0 lead in the series.