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April 9, 2006
Shahriar Nafees's brilliant maiden Test hundred gave Australia a rude awakening and Bangladesh their most promising start to a Test match on the first day at Fatullah. His 187-run stand with Habibul Bashar - the highest for Bangladesh in Tests - highlighted a raucous day for the hosts as they finished on 355 for 5.
Australia were expected to dominate the match from the start, but from the moment Bangladesh won the toss and chose to bat, their batsmen took charge. In a scenario resembling a one-day match, runs ticked along at close to five an over as Nafees and Bashar launched a stirring attack on the No.1 side in the world.
The day clearly belonged to Nafees, whose innings was a fine riposte to the Australian juggernaut. That his first hundred in first-class cricket should came against an attack comprising Shane Warne, Jason Gillespie and Brett Lee, on the opening day of a Test match, was surreal. Like the Energizer Bunny, Nafees just kept ticking on and on ... and on. Having raced to fifty before lunch with some deft cuts and drives off the quicks, Nafees channeled his aggression towards Warne, 674 Test wickets and all. Anything pitched up was driven, anything pitched short was played easily off the back foot. He did not commit himself to the front foot and was impeccable in his ability to judge the length. There was no trace of pressure as he approached his hundred, as he swept into the nineties by taking 14 off Warne's ninth over - three twos, a cover-drive and a sweep for four.
At 2.12pm local time, Nafees nibbled Warne around the corner for his second consecutive boundary to send out a most emphatic statement to Australia. Nafees's Test career had thus far yielded just a solitary fifty and today he picked a grand stage to move it up a notch. His magnificent innings came to an end on 138 when he was bowled round the legs trying to sweep Stuart MacGill, but for three-quarters of the day Nafees had given all of Bangladesh a chance to stare Australia in the face.
While much attention centred around Nafees's century, Bashar - Bangladesh's most consistent batsman in their brief Test history - played a gem of an innings. Whether dancing down the track to Warne or cutting through gully, Bashar was confidence personified during his innings of 76. His fluency helped Nafees and ensured that Bangladesh got the upper hand in the morning. It was to Bashar's discredit, though, that he threw it all away two deliveries before tea - a crude pull at a MacGill long-hop went to Lee at mid-on - when a hundred seemed there for the taking. Mohammad Ashraful came, biffed 29 from 28 and was given out lbw to Jason Gillespie to one that pitched on middle and leg, while Aftab Ahmed pulled MacGill to midwicket just to balance the equation a little. But Rajin Saleh buckled down and was unbeaten on 35 at the close.
Stuart Clark, not used to such situations in his three-Test career, looked a far cry from the bowler who reaped 20 wickets against South Africa. Faltering in line and length and with the pitch not responding to his efforts, Clark was clicked to the tune of 5.67 runs an over from his initial spell. Warne struggled to find his radar and was welcomed to Bangladesh - he had bowled 38,733 deliveries in Tests but none to this opposition - with a series of sublime cuts, drives and sweeps. It's a rare day when you see Warne go for 5.60 on the opening - nay, any day - of a Test match.
Gillespie gave Australia their only moment of celebration in the morning with Omar's wicket in his first over in Tests since August and got rid of Ashraful later on, and was the best bowler on view. Subtract his consistency and cool head and Australia's bowling figures could have been a lot worse. MacGill was the most successful with three wickets - all to unnecessary shots - but was guilty of also offering too many four-balls. Lee managed a hint of swing when he pitched it up, but otherwise the threat of a formidable Australian attack was negated. This was no David-slays-Goliath but the efforts of Nafees and Bashar may just have shaken Australia a little.
Javed Omar lbw b Gillespie 27 (51 for 1)
Half-stride forward to one pitched on middle and off
Habibul Bashar c Lee b MacGill 76 (238 for 2)
Unneccessary hoick to a long-hop, straight to mid-on
Shahriar Nafees b MacGill 138 (265 for 3)
Looked to sweep one on middle and leg, bowled around the legs
Mohammad Ashraful lbw b Gillespie 29 (295 for 4)
Shuffled across the stumps to one swinging down leg
Aftab Ahmed c Hayden b MacGill 29 (351 for 5)
Pulled a rank long-hop to midwicket
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