July 4, 2003

Bashar's 99 sets up intriguing final day

Bangladesh will get a chance to show their ability to score runs under pressure in a chase situation on the final day of their match against the Commonwealth Bank Academy XI at Brisbane tomorrow.

At stumps on day two at Allan Border Field, the Academy XI led by 125 runs, with six wickets remaining in their second innings. They were 99 for 4 at the close, with Aaron Nye 27 not out. The Academy side lost Simon Williams when the score was 14, and then Scott Meuleman (29) and Peter Worthington (4) were out within three overs of each other. At 45 for 3, they needed to rebuild and it was Nye who led the way. He batted for 105 minutes till stumps, and will be a key player as the Australians look to set Bangladesh a competitive target tomorrow.

Mashrafe Mortaza picked up 2 for 19, while Mohammad Rafique could prove a handful on the last day with his left-arm spin bowling. His six overs today resulted in a wicket for seven runs. However, the Australians have not yet batted their first innings success stories, Matthew Innes and Rhett Lockyear.

Earlier, Habibul Bashar and Javed Omar made a fine start to the second day when resuming Bangladesh's first innings. They added 146 runs for the second wicket with sensible batting which offered hope that Bangladesh might be able to get into a position where they were not playing catch-up cricket. Omar was first to go, for 59, having batted for 213 minutes. He was caught by Chris Duval from Aaron Nye's bowling.

That dismissal had the effect of setting off a mini-collapse. Four runs later, Bashar was out, one short of what would have been a deserved century. He had batted 188 minutes and faced 146 balls, before being bowled by fast-medium bowler Mark Cleary.

Further problems came for Bangladesh when Mohammad Ashraful was bowled without any addition to the score. Sanwar Hossain and Alok Kapali then staunched the flow of wickets in a sensible stand spread over half an hour before Callum Ferguson provided a double breakthrough. He had Kapali caught by Luke Ronchi for 14, and then Hossain's 63-minute innings ended for 26 when he was bowled by Ferguson.

Bangladesh were 220 for 6 at that stage. They declared at 232 for 7, 26 runs behind the Academy side for whom Ferguson finished with 2 for 5 from his five overs. The Academy's subsequent struggles have set up an intriguing climax.