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September 3, 2008
Bangladesh improved marginally but still lost by eight wickets in Darwin, where Australia's bowlers set up an unassailable 2-0 series lead. Once again weighed down by batting lapses, Bangladesh struggled to 117 against an unforgiving attack and then found Shaun Marsh and his top-order colleagues equally merciless as they completed the chase within 23 overs.
They wrapped up the result by 2.45pm, a time when most one-day internationals in Australia have barely started. Marsh finished unbeaten on 69 and firmed as a permanent opener in the limited-overs outfit. His second half-century of the series featured powerful cuts and clips through leg and highlighted why his partner Shane Watson described him as the hardest hitter of "normal cricket shots" that Watson had witnessed.
The result was never in doubt after poor shot selection was again a problem for Bangladesh. Their bowlers were put in a no-win situation, although Shakib Al Hasan tried to make the most of it. He had Watson trapped lbw trying an expansive sweep on 29 and Michael Clarke stumped for 1 when his eyes lit up prematurely. As they did on Saturday, Marsh and Michael Hussey batted with calm assurance and the victory was complete.
It was all but confirmed before midday after Bangladesh tried to avoid another thrashing by batting first. Nathan Bracken and Mitchell Johnson did the important damage in the top order and Australia's bowlers were spared a full day in the sun as Bangladesh sputtered out in the 37th over.
A late fight from Dhiman Ghosh helped them improve on their efforts of four days ago, when they capitulated for their lowest ODI total of 74 in 27.4 overs. But they were the sort of trivial steps forward that will do little to please the coach Jamie Siddons, who must again be lamenting the decision-making from several players.
Too many men lacked concentration and apart from a 38-run stand between Junaid Siddique and Shakib, they rarely looked like posting a challenging score. Dhiman showed some spark with his 36-ball 30 that featured consecutive sweeps for six and four over midwicket off Cameron White, but his departure in the next over was one of several unnecessary blunders from Bangladesh. Dhiman had nearly 20 overs up his sleeve when he tried to hammer Stuart Clark down the ground but lobbed it clumsily to mid off. From there the tail tried to resist but the outcome was inevitable and Johnson returned to finish the task, ending up with 3 for 17.
Dhiman was far from the only batsman who would regret the way he got out. Alok Kapali spooned a weak aerial drive to mid on when he was far from settled, and the captain Mohammad Ashraful again failed to lead by example. Ashraful's loose drive at a fullish, wide Clark delivery resulted in a thick edge to first slip when he was on 3. It left Bangladesh at 3 for 15 and in danger of setting another record low score.
The Australia fast men did not make things easy, using the early 9.30am start to extract some impressive swing. Bracken picked up both openers, including Tamim Iqbal from the first ball of the game. Tamim received a pearler that angled in and then swung away, catching the edge of his bat and flying to David Hussey at second slip.
Bracken combined with the other Hussey brother, Michael, four overs later when Mehrab Hossain jnr prodded another outswinger to third slip and left his series tally at one run from 18 balls. The hordes of schoolchildren who gradually filtered in were in danger of missing the action until Shakib and Siddique threatened a fightback of sorts.
Shakib brought up the first boundary of the innings with a well-timed cover-drive off Bracken that finally gave Bangladesh reason to cheer. The pair attacked Johnson, whose speed troubled the batsmen on Saturday, and his first delivery was dispatched confidently through cover for four by Shakib, who also cut him high over point.
Siddique looked quietly confident and advanced calmly to drive James Hopes over mid on for four, and their partnership was growing impressively. But the familiar scenes returned when Johnson picked them both up within two overs, Siddique for 21 and Shakib for 19.
White got his wish of a lengthy spell and sent down seven overs, the most he has ever bowled in an ODI. Although he battled to pitch the ball on line at times, he collected two wickets and will again be searching for a decent stint in the final game.
There is not much else Australia can aim to improve. For Bangladesh, the most relevant goal is to somehow bat out their overs.
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