Australia fight back on tense day
Adam Gilchrist sounded the charge and the bowlers finally turned in a performance that befits their standing as Australia clawed their way back into this Test match. On a see-saw day in this amazing Test, Gilchrist's stunning 144 and a good showing with the ball gave Australia their best day, though Bangladesh will still harbour hopes of an upset. It's been that kind of match.
Australia had begun the day needing to chalk off the 83 required to avoid the follow-on, something they have done just twice since 1988. Gilchrist, in a departure from his slam-bang affair with cricket, buckled down to play an innings that should draw comparisons with his death-defying unbeaten 149 against Pakistan at Hobart in 1999. To be reduced to a state of submission by Bangladesh was something Australia would not have expected when they arrived here. Gilchrist has played better, but never under such conditions and in this regard his innings was something else.
He is a batsman who has flourished with a basic technique, two powerful shots - the cut and the pull - and a reliance on great bat speed. In this innings there was none of that and what was most impressive was how he made a conscious effort to play straight. Mohammad Rafique, who bowled a fine spell, was played with the deadest of defence and when Gilchrist drove through mid-off and mid-on it was not the usual chip; rather, it was a controlled drive with a higher follow-through. Another factor was his footwork. Feet and bat went together, whether it was back to the quicks or down the track to the spinners.
Having seen Australia past the follow-on, he trained his sights on chipping away at Bangladesh's lead in an exhilarating post-lunch session. Gilchrist upped the tempo brilliantly by clubbing three sixes off Enamul Haque jnr after the interval, but Rafique held his nerve to grab the remaining three wickets. Having set Jason Gillespie up with the previous ball that bounced and turned, Rafique cleverly threw a quicker one and Gillespie, playing for the turn, was cleaned up for 26 when the ball rocked through and hit off stump. Stuart Clark was then trapped lbw for 0 and when Gilchrist slogged him to Shahadat Hossain at deep midwicket all of Bangladesh rose in a tumultuous roar.
Perhaps taking a cue, Australia's bowlers came to the party. Any Bangladeshi hopes of a first-innings repeat with the bat came crashing down as the game received another flip after tea. Shahriar Nafees had given Bangladesh a rapid start with a 38-ball 33 - though he was dropped by Shane Warne and Matthew Hayden - but a fed-up Brett Lee picked up his first wicket of the match with a furious yorker. Gillespie then got Javed Omar to edge to Gilchrist before Michael Clarke pulled off a brilliant piece of fielding from square leg to send back Habibul Bashar. Rajin Saleh turned Lee fine and called for a sharp single, but Clarke's throw caught Bashar just short of his crease. Stuart Clark then got into matters when he struck Mohammad Ashraful lbw for 4. Aftab Ahmed and Saleh added 47 in a gritty stand but an ugly swipe across the line to Stuart MacGill resulted in the demise on the stroke of stumps.
Australia will be boosted by the performance of Warne, who finally returned to bowl and found the control that had left him on the first day, and MacGill. Warne was extremely unlucky not to pick up a wicket in a mesmerising spell in which he tempted, teased and turned the ball. More than one ball whizzed past the bat in a session in which Saleh and Ahmed were left to prod and plunk their pads forward against a deadly legspin duo that refused to give in.
This match is far from over, however. This pitch will deteriorate and a target of 350 will test any side, not least one that was dismantled by a 35-year old spinner in his first appearance against them. Australia may have enjoyed their best day of this enthralling Test match, but Bangladesh still have plenty to say.
Brett Lee lbw b Mortaza 15 (156 for 7)
Well forward to one that swung in and got him in front of middle and leg, slightly high
Jason Gillespie b Rafique 26 (229 for 8)
Useless swipe across the line, off stump knocked back
Stuart Clark lbw b Rafique 0 (268 for 9)
Played across the line to one that rapped him in front of middle
Adam Gilchrist c Shahadat Hossain b Rafique 144 (269 for 10)
Slogged to deep midwicket's throat
Shahriar Nafees b Lee 33 (48 for 1)
Yorker, full and fast
Javed Omar c Gilchrist b Gillespie 18 (58 for 2)
Went for a cut, inside edge to the `keeper
Habibul Bashar run out (Clarke) 7 (66 for 3)
Played to square leg, sharp call, brilliant throw got him just short
Mohammad Ashraful lbw b Clark 4 (77 for 4)
Full delivery hit him on the toe, outside leg though
Aftab Ahmed lbw b MacGill 17 (124 for 5)
Tried to play across the line, caught plumb in front
Jamie Alter is editorial assistant of Cricinfo