Bangladesh build respectable total at Cairns
Close Bangladesh 289 for 8 (Sarkar 76, Bashar 46, Hossain
46; MacGill 5-77)
A fast pitch at Cairns was meant to spell doom for Bangladesh. Steve Waugh further suggested that Bangladesh would not be able to improve rapidly enough to stand up to Australia. Bangladesh, however, showed tremendous bottle in reaching 289 for 8 at close on the first day. Hannan Sarkar's 76 at the top of the innings was well backed up by three other scores of over 40, and Bangladesh made a good fist of it after being put in.
Defying the Australians: Hannan Sarkar hits out on his way to 76
It wasn't all easy going on a much faster pitch than that in Darwin for the first Test, but what must have pleased Dav Whatmore, Bangladesh's coach, was the way his side came back from two potentially debilitating collapses. The first, when three wickets fell for one run, and the second, with two in two balls.
Yet Bangladesh ploughed on undaunted and it was fitting that Khaled Mashud should have made his highest Test score of 44 to mark his eighth-wicket partnership of 51 with Tapash Baisya. However, that was unlikely to satisfy him as he got out just before the close of play. Baisya remained 21 not out.
This was supposed to be the day when Australia's vaunted pace attack was going to do the business on Bangladesh but, instead, it was Stuart MacGill who confounded a more determined batting effort from the tourists. He took his eighth five-wicket haul in Tests and ended the day with 5 for 77 off 24 overs. His most reliable ally was Jason Gillespie who took 2 for 58 in 24 overs.
Venom was definitely lacking during the first session as the Australian bowlers struggled to pitch it in the corridor outside off, too often spraying the ball down the leg side. When they had reached 155 for 1, Bangladesh must have been starting to entertain thoughts of a rare 300-plus total.
But at that stage, MacGill ended the 108-run second-wicket partnership between Hannan Sarkar and Habibul Bashar by taking a return catch from Bashar when he had reached 46. Five balls later Mohammad Ashraful was walking back to the pavilion having scored a duck when he failed to get enough bat on a leg-side flick for it to avoid the gloves of Adam Gilchrist.
MacGill then struck the most significant blow by removing Sarkar for 76, his highest Test score by 11 runs. It was an impressive effort by Sarkar who faced 136 balls and hit nine boundaries, but it must be wondered how much more he might have been able to achieve had he enjoyed firm support at the other end.
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Alok Kapali was entitled to dread the first ball he received from MacGill having been twice out to him leg before wicket in Darwin - both times without making a run. He lasted long enough to get five runs on the board before he was beaten by a superb legspinner which bit, turned and caught the edge of his bat to be taken at first slip by Martin Love.
Sanwar Hossain, unwanted in the first Test, relished the challenge provided by Brett Lee. At one stage he hit three successive fours off him, all square of the wicket on the off side - part of the five boundaries he hit in 11 balls from Lee. Hossain and Khaled Mashud put on another 60 before MacGill struck a double blow by having Hossain cut a ball onto his stumps when he had scored 46, and then, off the next ball, trapping Khaled Mahmud leg before wicket from a ball that stayed low.
Baisya was required to come in and face the hat-trick ball and he just about survived. He was hit on the pads to the expected vociferous appeal from the Australians. But despite the mid-innings stutters, Bangladesh had reason to be satisfied at the close of play. David Hookes had thought the Test could be over in a day - but Bangladesh were yet to finish their first innings.