Saturday, August 30, 2008
Start time 9.30am (local)
The Big Picture
It was originally supposed to include two Tests, then it was billed as a warm-up for Australia ahead of the Champions Trophy. Now the three-match ODI series against Bangladesh in Darwin stands alone in a cricket schedule with big gaps either side for both teams. Ultimately, the series will not mean a lot unless Bangladesh score an upset victory. Australia are missing several of their most senior players, which means a few fringe squad members will be given opportunities. They have had only one warm-up match in Darwin and their batsmen were clearly rusty, while Bangladesh have been in town for two weeks and have had five games. It is a factor that gives the visitors hope.
ODI form guide
Australia - WWWWW (most recent first)
Bangladesh - LLLLW
Ricky Ponting (wrist) and Matthew Hayden (heel) are missing from the top order, while Brett Lee is sitting out of this series due to his personal issues. Only Michael Hussey and Michael Clarke remain from the side that lost to Bangladesh in Cardiff in 2005. The changeover means Shane Watson and Shaun Marsh are likely to continue the successful opening combination they formed in the West Indies. Brett Geeves is unlikely to force his way in for a debut in the first match, although an opportunity could come later in the series.
Australia (possible) 1 Shane Watson, 2 Shaun Marsh, 3 Michael Hussey, 4 Michael Clarke (capt), 5 Andrew Symonds, 6 David Hussey, 7 Brad Haddin (wk), 8 James Hopes, 9 Mitchell Johnson, 10 Nathan Bracken, 11 Stuart Clark.
Before the tour began, Bangladesh lost Shahriar Nafees, who decided to stay home to concentrate on his studies. His replacement, Nazimuddin, suffered a serious hand injury before the first practice match. As a result, they have tried several opening combinations in the warm-up games. The century to Mehrab Hossain jnr in the final match against the Northern Territory Chief Minister's XI earned him the job of partnering Tamim Iqbal for the first match. Nazmul Hossain edged out Farhad Reza for the third seamer's position.
Bangladesh 1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Mehrab Hossain jnr, 3 Mohammad Ashraful (capt), 4 Raqibul Hasan, 5 Shakib al Hasan, 6 Alok Kapali, 7 Dhiman Ghosh (wk), 8 Mashrafe Mortaza, 9 Abdur Razzak, 10 Nazmul Hossain, 11 Shahadat Hossain.
Watch out for ...
Shaun Marsh One of the stars of the IPL, Marsh continued his excellent form in Australia's ODI series in the West Indies. They were Marsh's first matches in Australia colours and the Darwin games will provide his first chance to represent his country at home. Bangladesh concede their bowling is their weakness and Marsh, with his fine strokeplay and timing, could do some serious early damage.
Tamim Iqbal A powerful striker of the ball, Tamim will relish the chance to test himself against the Australian attack. Bangladesh's batting is stronger than their bowling and if Tamim can help set up a hefty total, it could give them their best chance of a surprise victory.
Umpires Amiesh Saheba, Peter Parker.
Pitch and conditions
Australia's low-scoring practice match against the AIS on Wednesday suggested a slow, up-and-down surface. However, the pitch has flattened out and by Saturday should be reasonable for batting. A score of 220 to 240 might be competitive, considering the early start which may help the seamers.
While overcoats have been needed in southern Australia to keep the winter at bay, Darwin remains hot and fine. The forecast for Saturday is sunny with a top temperature of 32 degrees.
Stats and trivia
Bangladesh have beaten Australia once in their 13 one-day international meetings, at Cardiff in 2005. Since that match the teams have clashed six times, including two ten-wicket victories for Australia.
Michael Clarke, the stand-in Australia captain, has not lost a match in his four games in charge at ODI and Twenty20 level.
This will be only the second one-day international held at Darwin's Marrara Cricket Ground. In the previous contest, Australia beat Bangladesh by 112 runs in 2003.
"They've got a lot of talent in their team. If things go their way they can score a lot of runs in a short amount of time, so our bowlers have to be on the mark."
Michael Clarke, Australia's stand-in captain.
"[Our] bowling attack as we know is a little bit weaker and that's the area that we can be exposed."
Jamie Siddons, the Bangladesh coach.