The NatWest Series 2005

Australia v Bangladesh, Cardiff

ESPNcricinfo staff

At Cardiff, June 18. Bangladesh won by five wickets. Bangladesh 5 pts. Australia 1 pt. Toss: Australia.

Two days after being humbled by England, Bangladesh produced the greatest upset in 2,250 oneday internationals to outclass world champions Australia. This match looked like David and Goliath in more ways than one. Mohammad Ashraful's mother had worried about her slightly built son taking on the physically imposing Australians, but he emerged a hero, striking 11 fours in a dazzling, run-a-ball innings. He kissed the pitch after reaching a maiden one-day hundred with a single off McGrath. Bangladesh, chasing 250 to win, now needed just 23 off three overs with six wickets left. Ashraful fell next ball, caught at long-on off Gillespie. But Aftab Ahmed, little taller than Ashraful, and Mohammad Rafique held their nerve, bringing it down to seven off six balls. The murmur of anticipation was now a barely suppressed roar. Aftab struck the first ball of Gillespie's final over for six wide of long-on to level the scores. A scrambled single completed the miracle, only Bangladesh's tenth victory in 108 one-day internationals. Attempts to keep joyful fans off the field were no more successful than Australia's to hold back Bangladesh's batsmen.

Australia's day was awkward from the start. They dropped Symonds after an alcohol-fuelled night in Cardiff, and Lee was injured, but their absence initially seemed trifling - even when Ponting surprisingly batted first, and Mashrafe bin Mortaza's second ball had Gilchrist lbw. Ponting himself managed one run before Tapash Baisya exploited his habit of falling across his stumps early on, leaving Australia nine for two. Martyn and Clarke rallied, and a total of 249 for five seemed more than adequate when Bangladesh were only 81 for three after 25 overs.

But Ashraful was as hot as the weather as he added 130 with Habibul Bashar. He brought up his fifty flat-batting McGrath over mid-off for four, though he should have been caught two overs later when he hooked Kasprowicz to long leg: Gillespie dropped it. No Welsh try at the nearby Millennium Stadium was ever greeted with a louder roar, and the collapse almost everyone expected never came. "This is probably one of the biggest upsets in the history of cricket, and my worst defeat as captain," said Ponting. Dav Whatmore, the Bangladesh coach and former Australian Test batsman, showed a Kipling-like approach to victory and defeat, but admitted the whole team were "jumping up and down when that six was hit". They were not alone. The reaction of anyone who took the pre-match odds offered by some London bookmakers of 500-1 on Australia would have been somewhat different.

Man of the Match: Mohammad Ashraful.

© Wisden Cricketers' Almanack