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The Bulletin by Sriram Veera
September 16, 2007
It was swift and clinical. Brett Lee claimed the first hat-trick in Twenty20 internationals as Australia's fast bowlers hit a persistent short-of-length to set the game up and restrict Bangladesh to 123, before Mathew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist easily powered Australia to a nine-wicket win.
Bangladesh had detonated the West Indies and South African new-ball attacks but that was because they were offered a fuller length that allowed them to blast through the line. Australia recognised it and didn't offer much on the fuller side today. The idea was to put the ball in the right place, as Lee emphasised at the end of the match. "I thought all the bowlers did a great job," he said. "We had a few things we wanted to work on and we did that quite well."
That bounce was going to be the theme of the day was evidenced in the opening over with Lee repeatedly kicking it up from short of a length. Bangladesh were pushed to the back foot and, with only Aftab Ahmed and Mohammad Ashraful really comfortable playing the pull shots, they were unusually subdued from early on. Perhaps they were making amends after their over-the-top aggression had proved costly against South Africa. As the overs ticked by Australia inexorably tightened the tourniquet.
Ricky Ponting rang in the changes quickly, introducing all his four seamers within five overs and didn't allow the openers to settle. After the Powerplay period, he deployed a double-spin attack with Andrew Symonds and Michael Clarke and still Bangladesh couldn't break free. Nazimuddin scooped a low catch to cover and Tamim Iqbal, who dealt mainly in singles and twos, sliced a skier to point to push Bangladesh further back.
The expected surge from Ashraful and Aftab never came. Sure, there were a couple of boundaries - Ashraful slashed Mitchell Johnson over backward point, Aftab smoked a rare full delivery from Lee over cover and Shakib Al Hasan slog-swept Clarke over deep midwicket - but it was too little and too late.
Ashraful fell, scooping a slower one to cover off the economical Stuart Clark, trying to up the ante and it left Aftab with too much to do. But with Lee creating Twenty20 history in the 17th over with a hat-trick - he cramped Shakib into edging an intended cut to the keeper, yorked Mashrafe Mortaza and trapped Alok Kapali with one that nipped back in - Australia had climbed all over Bangladesh.
Lee was obviously contented with his effort. "It's always nice to get three wickets in a row so happy days," he said. "Sometimes you look up at the scoreboard and you see you have gone for 15 off two overs, it's just a matter of knowing you've hit the spot. And I've been pretty happy."
The chase was all over in a blink. Hayden walked imperiously down the track to heave the length deliveries away and swept and swung the medium-pacers, disorienting them completely, while Gilchrist took the spinners to the cleaners. Australia had careened to victory in style.
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