Bangladesh have claimed their first-ever Test win over Australia and one of the most memorable in their cricket history after triumphing by just 20 runs on a thrilling fourth day in Dhaka. In his 50th Test but his first against Australia, Shakib Al Hasan confirmed his status as the game’s leading allrounder with one of the finest individual efforts the game has seen, finishing with match figures of 10-153 to add to his first-innings knock of 84.
It’s just the 10th time in 101 matches, Bangladesh have been on the winning side of a Test, and there were jubilant scenes of celebration when Taijul Islam (3-60) claimed the final wicket to seal a nail-biting victory. Opener David Warner’s brilliant knock of 112 from just 135 balls saw him finish with close to half of Australia’s fourth innings total of 244, a valiant knock that went in vain as his teammates capitulated on a deteriorating Mirpur pitch, losing 8-86 to surrender the series opener.
Pat Cummins’ unbeaten 33, which included two towering sixes, had Australia dreaming of an extraordinary victory but Bangladesh erupted when No.11 Josh Hazlewood was lbw to Taijul. Bangladesh’s victory comes less than 12 months after defeating England at the same venue and their win over Australia confirms the Tigers – for so long written off as the minnows of world cricket -have risen as a legitimate force.
Australia’s enduring vulnerability to spin-bowling on the subcontinent remains a major concern and they’ve now won just one of their past 16 Tests in Asia. Apart from Warner, skipper Steve Smith (37) and Cummins were the only players to score more than 15 in the second innings as 19 of the 20 Australian wickets in the match fell to spin (the other was a run-out). At 2-109 in pursuit of 265 for victory, the visitors began the day with all the momentum thanks to an unbroken 81-run stand between Warner and Smith the previous evening. And just as they had done late on day three, Bangladesh’s spinners initially appeared hesitant against the visitors’ leadership duo.
While Shakib has been Bangladesh’s trump card, his fellow tweaker Mehedi Hasan had arguably been as impressive in Australia’s first dig after accounting for both Warner and Smith. Here though the 19-year-old off-spin prodigy struggled to match his cunning earlier work and Warner in particular was brutal on his frequent drag-downs.
The Australia vice-captain was in stunning touch. He faced just four balls of pace bowling for his entire innings and carved the Bangladesh spinners with a dazzling array of sweeps, advancing drives and pulls. In their first innings, Australia barely got a break from the home side’s bowlers but Warner looked to have almost single-handedly destroyed their confidence.
Shakib, the heartbeat of this spirited Test side, kicked the dirt as Warner waltzed down and smacked him against the spin through cover as he approached triple figures.
The left-hander brought up his 19th Test hundred (the same number as fellow Australian southpaws Mark Taylor and Mike Hussey) with a back-foot punch off Taijul, high-fiving skipper Smith as he turned back for a second run.
His determined delight was clear to see, with the dashing opener having gone 19 Test innings on the subcontinent without a hundred. But while Australia looked be flying towards victory with the pair seemingly in control, the resolute Shakib inspired another twist in this gripping contest, trapping Warner lbw for 112 before Smith edged the left-armer behind for 37 four overs later.
Suddenly the tourists had two new batsmen at the crease in Glenn Maxwell and Peter Handscomb and the 94 runs still required looked a far more imposing task. And when Handscomb’s cut off Taijul was brilliantly caught on the second attempt by Soumya Sarka at slip, Australia needed another 78 with half their wickets gone.
As reserve quick Taskin Ahmed geed up an expectant Mirpur crowd and the Bangladesh fielders around the bat cried in unison for every half-shout, a now rampant Shakib struck Matthew Wade (four) in front, the wicketkeeper-batsman desperately using his team’s final review in a bid to overturn the lbw call. From that point, Bangladesh closed in, Ashton Agar quickly becoming Australia’s fifth victim in the morning session when he bunted a simple return catch to Taijul to give him a second scalp as the tourists limped to lunch in much worse shape than they’d been two hours earlier.
From the first ball after the interval, Shakib clean-bowled Maxwell for 14 with one that kept low, becoming the first player in Test history to claim 10 wickets and post a total of more than 80 on two separate occasions, having first achieved the feat against Zimbabwe in 2014. This though, with all due respect to Zimbabwe, will go down as the allrounder’s finest hour in a decorated career. And while Cummins and Nathan Lyon (12) brought Australia within 40 runs of their target, the latter had to depart when he gloved a sweep off Taijul and was caught by a juggling Sarkar running around from slip.
Despite going down with a side injury the previous day and being ruled out for the rest of the tour, Hazlewood bravely came out to bat. The Blues quick gamely fended defensively and left where possible, as Cummins looked to farm the strike.
Their plan worked for long enough to see Cummins swat a couple of maximums over midwicket, which briefly had both teams contemplating the unthinkable, before Hazlewood’s dismissal had the hosts’ delirious players scrambling for the match stumps – six souvenirs with a pretty good story to tell.