Peter Handscomb, drenched in sweat and fighting dehydration, epitomised Australian desire to atone for their defeat in Mirpur, helping David Warner guide the visitors to within sight of Bangladesh's first-innings total on another draining day in Chittagon
An exhausted but undefeated Peter Handscomb, drenched in sweat and fighting dehydration, epitomised Australian desire to atone for their defeat in Mirpur, helping the vice-captain David Warner guide the visitors to within sight of Bangladesh's first-innings total on another draining day in Chittagong.
Where on day one it had been Pat Cummins struggling to get to the bowling crease, this time it was Handscomb reaching the edge of collapse in the day's last half an hour, amid an unbroken partnership of 127 with Warner that helped capitalise on the excellent work of Nathan Lyon in the morning session to round up Bangladesh.
Play was held up for several minutes as Handscomb received urgent treatment to cool him down, but his play was otherwise a model of positivity and good sense against a Bangladesh side that has seemed content to wait for things to happen over the first two days. A draw is enough for the hosts to win only the fourth Test series in their history, but a pair of missed chances allowed Warner to push towards his second century in as many innings.
Australia's captain Steven Smith had also demonstrated a strong method, before he played around a straight delivery from Taijul Islam just as the visitors appeared to be setting a platform. However Handscomb and Warner ensured the Australian innings would not deteriorate, in conditions that admittedly tested the batsmen in terms of heat and humidity more so than the sharp spin and variable bounce of the first Test.
Lyon's dismissal of Mushfiqur Rahim in his first over of the day, then that of the last man Taijul, had given the off spinner the handsome figures of 7 for 94. Ashton Agar provided useful support while the recalled Steve O'Keefe finished wicketless, and Cummins looked mercifully less exhausted after a night's sleep following his demanding day-one stint as Australia's only pace bowler.
Smith had started the day with a refreshed Cummins and O'Keefe, but it took Lyon's introduction to tease out a desperately needed breakthrough. Mushfiqur did not quite reach the pitch of a sharp-turning off break that he succeeded only in dragging back onto his stumps with a heavy helping of overspin.
At the other end, Agar's arrival drew a Nasir Hossain attempt to cut a flatter delivery that was perhaps too close to him for the shot. The resultant edge brought a third fine dismissal of the innings for the wicketkeeper Matthew Wade, who will also need overdue runs to shore up his place in the team ahead of the home Ashes series in November.
Mehidy Hasan looked good for a few runs, but was undone when hesitating on a second run and finding himself comfortably short when Warner threw down the stumps after a live-wire chase from backward point - another instance of fine fielding to match some of Wade's efforts in Chittagong's considerable heat. Taijul advanced to loft Glenn Maxwell beyond the wide long-on boundary and so push Bangladesh beyond 300, before an attempt to hit Lyon just as far resulted in an outside edge held sharply by Smith at slip to bring the innings to a close and reward the offspinner with the third seven-wicket haul of his six years in Test cricket.
Matt Renshaw was lost in the minutes preceding lunch when he failed to glance Mustafizur Rahman beyond a diving Mushfiqur - the first wicket to fall to a Bangladeshi pace bowler for the series. Smith then played positively to drive Australia's response, while Warner slotted into an uncustomary supporting role. While the occasional delivery turned disconcertingly, these were mainly negotiated with skill and poise by the touring team's leaders, notably forcing Mehidy to revert to bowling over the wicket to Smith after his success from around the stumps in Mirpur.
Shakib Al Hasan also appeared to have been vanquished, compelling Mushfiqur to replace him with Taijul as tea approached. Where most of Shakib's deliveries had straightened down the line, Taijul's first continued to arrow in with the arm, and Smith failed to make the appropriate adjustment. The loss of the captain left Australia somewhat vulnerable, before Warner and Handscomb settled into the sort of rhythm from which long partnerships are made.
Making the most of his back-foot method, Handscomb was able to find gaps through the off side, with the occasional sally down the wicket to loft the ball into the expanses between mid-on and midwicket. Warner continued to play within himself, settling in for a lengthy occupation, though he twice had the good fortune of chances spurned. On 52 he bunted Taijul to short leg, only for Mominul Haque to spill it, then 21 runs later danced down to Mehidy and was reprieved by the fact that low bounce - and perhaps his own fatigue - foiled Mushfiqur's attempt to complete the stumping.
What remained in the day was Handscomb's struggle to keep himself vertical, as Bangladesh's bowlers and fielders all seemed eager simply to get through to stumps rather than overly press for the wicket of the badly fatigued Victorian. It's been 31 years since Dean Jones fought the most extreme of fatigue, cramps and dehydration to tally an epic double-century against India in Madras. Handscomb and Warner have a long way to go before they reach a comparable peak.