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When Bangladesh almost beat invincible Australians

  • Published at 11:56 am April 13th, 2020
Bangladesh opener Shahriar Nafees bats against Australia during their Fatullah Test on 2006 File Photo/AFP

The coronavirus pandemic has stalled most of the public activities around the world and almost all the countries in the world have stopped all sorts of sporting activities for the indefinite time as the virus is encroaching more and more countries aggravating the number of casualties. Bangladesh is not an exception as the country has shut down all sporting activities and for the sports lover nothing can be more frustrating as they are quarantined at home without any live sports or even the news. Hence, Dhaka Tribune Sports has decided to cheer up its readers by recalling some of the fondest memories of the country's sporting chronicles. Our wish is to keep our readers mentally strong in the tough time of corona.

Today DT sports is remembering the famous Fatullah Test between hosts Bangladesh and visiting Australia which ended exactly 14 years ago and where Bangladesh fell agonizingly short to clinch a famous Test victory.

The Fatullah Test between hosts Bangladesh and visiting Australia is definitely one of the best Test matches Bangladesh have ever played in their history. No, Bangladesh did not clinch victory in that Test, but the way Bangladesh played against the mighty Aussies, that memory will be remembered forever for a cricket fan of Bangladesh.

April 13, 2006 might have gone down as one of the great days of Bangladesh Test cricket history had they taken three more wickets in that thrilling Test match.

Australia had a difficult season in 2005 as they lost the Ashes to England away in that famous series, which can be considered as one of the most competitive Test series ever in recent time, and the mighty Aussies also lost to Bangladesh in an ODI at tri-nation series as well during that tour which was a major shock for the side which was termed invincible for years in the highest tier of global cricket. 

After that mixed 2005 season, the great Australian team came to Bangladesh for a two-match Test and three match ODI series with almost a full squad. Although Opener Justin Langer and fast bowler Glen Mcgrath were absent from the Test squad but Australia had many world class players in their squad.

Exactly 14 years ago, during the first Test against the Aussies from April 9-13, Tigers almost pulled out another incredible win as the match went to fifth day and Australia managed to hold their nerve and chase down 307 runs in fourth innings and rookie Bangladesh Test squad, only sixth year after gaining Test status, were just three wickets away from an incredible win, which would be surely their best, in their Test history.

Bangladesh opted to bat first during that match against a strong Aussie bowling lineup. Although Mcgrath was absent in that tour but still Australia had Brett Lee, Jason Gillespie, young fast bowler Stuart Clarke (was dubbed as new Mcgrath) and two of their leg-spin wizards Shane Warne and Staurt MacGill.

And against such a world class bowling attack Bangladesh batsmen produced a stunning performance in the first innings. And it was led by left hand opener Shahriar Nafees who struck an outstanding century. Nafees scored 138 off 189 deliveries with fluent stroke-making all over the ground that yielded nineteen boundaries.

Nafees’s heroic innings helped Bangladesh post 427 runs on the board in the first innings which gave Tigers upper hand straightaway. When recalling the memories about that special innings Nafees said,

“I believe that was my best innings so far, compared to every innings I have played in my career. Australia were the No 1 team at that time. They were playing outstanding cricket at that moment. An innings like 138 against a quality team and bowling attack inspired me throughout my career,” said Nafees to Dhaka Tribune while recalling the match.


Among the 19 boundaries, Nafees informed his batting against the legendary Shane Warne was some kind of memory he will cherish forever. 

“I scored 10 boundaries against Shane Warne. I played some well-struck sweep shots against him. I think such batting against Shane Warne is the memory I will cherish forever,” Nafees added.

Spin maestro Warne was unimpressive in the first innings against the Bangladesh batsmen as he bowled 20 overs but remained wicketless and conceded 112 runs with 5.60 economy.

Besides Nafees, captain Habibul Bashar (76) and Rajin Saleh (67) also made valuable contributions with brilliant half-centuries against the Aussie attack.

 Although Warne was wicketless, MacGill was the star in the first innings for Aussies picking up eight wickets.

Charged up Bangladesh then bowled really well when Aussies came to bat as at one stage Australia were struggling losing five wickets when the score was just 75.

Mathew Hayden, Ricky Ponting, Damien Martyn, Michael Clarke, Michael Hussey all went back to pavilion and Australia were in all sorts of trouble. But Adam Glichrist stood strong and played one of the best Test innings in his career. The left hander scored crucial 144 runs in the first innings which helped Australian to score past 250 runs.

Bangladesh took a vital 158-run lead in the first innings but were all out for 148 in the second innings. The target, 307, was still difficult for Australia as the pitch was deteriorating and the match rolled to day four.

But Ricky Ponting played a gem of an innings and scored unbeaten 118 to steer them to victory. Bangladesh was sniffing victory at one stage as Australia were six down for 231 and still needed 76 runs to win when Brett Lee came to bat. But Ponting’s determined effort and Lee’s resistance (29 off 74 deliveries) ensured Australia a nervy win and Aussie camp breathed a sigh of relief.

Bangladesh players were all fired up with positive aggression against Australia, one of the best Test teams in that era, and were on the upper hand in almost every session in the first four days. But Australia held their nerve and snatched a brilliant victory.

That match will always be remembered in Bangladesh Test history as the challenge they produced against the mighty Aussies gave players confidence in coming years. Still fans can remember that Test match with a mixed feeling of pride and agony, if Bangladesh could add more in the second innings, then it could be another milestone for the Bangladesh Test cricket history in their very early days.  

Brief scores:

Bangladesh 427 (Shahriar Nafees 138, Habibul Bashar 76, Rajin Saleh 67; Stuart MacGill 8 for 108) and 148 (Jason Gillespie 3 for 18, Shane Warne 3 for 23) lost to Australia 269 (Adam Gilchrist 144; Mohammad Rafique 5 for 62) and 307 for 7 (Mathew Hayden 72, Ricky Ponting 118*; Mohammad Rafique 4 for 98) by 3 wickets.

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