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The Wisden Bulletin by Freddie Auld
October 31, 2003
Easy pickings: Richard Johnson celebrates his second five-for in only his second Test
© Getty Images
Close England 326 and 293 for 5 (Hussain 95, Thorpe 54) lead Bangladesh 152 (Johnson 5-49) by 467 runs
For the first time in the series, England enjoyed a day of total domination, starting with Richard Johnson's magic in the morning and ending with Nasser Hussain's evening rampage. England closed the third day on 293 for 5 with a firm stranglehold on the match, extending their lead to a massive 467 against a tired and dispirited Bangladesh side starring down the barrel.
Hussain batted England into an almost certainly unbeatable position, but it was Johnson who got things going with his second five-wicket haul in only his second Test as Bangladesh lost their last six wickets for 61 runs inside 25 overs. They scrambled past the score needed to avoid the follow-on, but their batting was fragile and England's second-string seamers enjoyed their day in the sun.
Johnson (5 for 49), whose extra bounce regularly troubled the batsmen, was the pick of the bunch. Under more pressure to perform with the unwell Rikki Clarke back in the team hotel, he struck three times in the first hour as Bangladesh just about clawed their way towards short-term safety. Rajin Saleh was Johnson's first victim of the day. He attempted to cut a ball which was far too close to him and edged to Chris Read, the wicketkeeper (107 for 5).
In Johnson's next over he removed Khaled Mashud for a duck with a short ball which Mashud could only fend off to substitute fielder Paul Collingwood at third slip (110 for 6). Khaled Mahmud took on the bowling in a successful bid to get Bangladesh to the 127 they needed to avoid the follow-on, but with one run needed a full-length ball leapt a little, caught the shoulder of Mahmud's bat and lobbed to Collingwood (126 for 7).
On the attack: Nasser Hussain during his 95
© Getty Images
A delighted Martin Saggers took his first Test wicket, ending Rahman's 95-ball 28 with a peach of a delivery which Rahman nicked behind. Johnson then took his fifth, courtesy of a vile heave from Mashrafe Mortaza who deservedly lost his off stump (138 for 9) and then Saggers wrapped things up when Enamul Haque jnr holed out to Matthew Hoggard at long leg.
England were on a high after a job well done and Mark Butcher, opening in place of the injured Marcus Trescothick, gave them a further lift. He started in a hurry, signalling his intent with a boundary off the first ball of the innings and smacking two more in the next over.
But after he had creamed six boundaries in all, he once again fell victim to left-arm finger spinner Rafique, who has now taken his wicket three times in this series. Butcher was deceived by the quicker ball which he tried to cut but only succeeded in getting a thin edge to Mashud, the wicketkeeper (66 for 1). England then quickly lost their second wicket when Hussain called Michael Vaughan through for a suicidal single but after a mix-up mid pitch, Vaughan was run out by some distance (70 for 2).
Another post-lunch capitulation was on the cards, but Hussain and Graham Thorpe made sure that didn't happen and showed who was boss with an utterly dominating stand of 138. After taking half an hour to get off the mark, Hussain then slowly stamped his authority on the tired attack which was severely missing Mortaza, who left the pitch before tea with a knee injury and will miss the one-day international series. Hussain used his feet well, and drove and cut a barrage of boundaries. He signalled the hundred partnership with a towering straight six off Rafique and for good measure, cut the next ball for another four.
Thorpe went about his business in his own quiet way, knocking off the singles but also crashing anything short in to the midwicket boundary. He didn't even realise when he notched up his half-century, and neither did any of the deadly quiet crowd, which was a measure of how far England were on top.
Rafique gave Bangladesh something to shout about when he trapped Thorpe plum lbw for 54 (208 for 3). But by that stage it didn't really matter. Hussain carried on with ease, nearing his century, passing 20,000 first-class runs, and guiding the lead towards 400. But in the end, Rafique spoiled what would have been the icing on the cake for England with a simple catch off his own bowling to remove Hussain for an exhilarating 95 (231 for 4).
Clarke, up to his eyeballs with Imodium, replaced Hussain and straight away launched Rafique for a straight six in a quick 27 from 15. Read also took his chances, knocking a quick 38 not out, including five classy fours. He added a rapid 59 with Clarke which represented a fine end to what was England's day. Clarke fell lbw to Haque in the final over, and there was then a surprise entrance from Trescothick, who faced one ball before the close.
For Bangladesh, though, the day started badly and got worse. They now have a huge job on their hands to save the match, and considering their highest fourth-innings total is 184, you wouldn't fancy their chances.
Shorter tours don't allow you time to get into form, and domestic cricket isn't demanding enough