Hundreds for Waugh and Lehmann as Australia take charge
Any kernel of hope is an achievement for Bangladesh in their first Test against Australia, and while they are still odds on to lose this game heavily tomorrow, it won't be their worst defeat and it won't be added to the list of two-day losses like so many had predicted.
Following Steve Waugh's declaration midway through the last session, Bangladesh started their chase 310 runs behind. That number might have brought back the nightmares of their worst Test defeat - West Indies drubbed them by an innings and 310 runs at Dhaka earlier this year - but Bangladesh made a spirited reply. Despite Javed Omar's loss, for 5 off the last ball of Glenn McGrath's second over, Hannan Sarkar and Habibul Bashar did their version of going for 'Sydney or the Bush' by reaping 62 runs for the second wicket. Incredibly, Sarkar and Bashar scored at 4.67 runs per over in Bangladesh's second innings, far higher than Australia's rate in their first innings.
Australia hold all the cards, however. Yesterday, Glenn McGrath and Jason Gillespie became the country's most successful opening-bowling combination when they took their 244th wicket to surpass the duo of Keith Miller and Ray Lindwall.
Today, Steve Waugh, who is a cast-iron certainty to become Test cricket's most successful captain with his 37th victory some time tomorrow, became the second player, after South Africa's Gary Kirsten, to score centuries against all nine Test-playing nations. His 100 not out, off 133 balls in 177 minutes, came as the Australians finally got their scoring rate moving and as Bangladesh's bowlers started to struggle after a day of defensive bowling which made good use of the slow outfield that has plagued the game. Australia ended on a run-rate of 3.46 per over.
Waugh capitalised on the fine third-wicket stand by Darren Lehmann and Justin Langer (71) which, while cautious to the extreme, laid the foundation for the later assault. The Australians had been well-contained by the defensive bowling throughout the morning.
However, after the break, Lehmann achieved his second Test century and went on to 110 before he was dismissed, the first of two wickets in an over by Mashrafe Mortaza who was bowling around the mid-130kmph mark at that stage. He also bowled Martin Love first ball. But the combination of Waugh and Adam Gilchrist turned the situation around by adding 69 in 58 minutes.
Although he lost Gilchrist, the length of the Australian tail ensured that Waugh would have enough competent batsmen to reach his 31st Test century. Brett Lee swatted his way to 23 in a 64-run partnership in 12.3 overs, while Gillespie scored 16 off 15 balls and was unbeaten when Waugh hit the last two runs for his century and immediately declared with his Test average back over 50 at 50.31.
But all is not lost for Bangladesh. If they can continue the forthright attitude they adopted this evening into the third day, and keep their wickets intact, they will at least have the opportunity to make Australia bat again. But it is just as easy to imagine that Australia will be determined to ensure their bats and pads stay safely packed in their coffins by exposing the lack of concentration that has so far marred Bangladesh's life in Test cricket.