Following the shocking blow by the hands of the Bangladeshi cricketers, Australian Skipper, Steve Smith acknowledged their adversary’s brilliant transformation in the world of cricket. According to Australian skipper, the victory was well deserving for Bangladeshi cricketers as they were right on the money through out the Test match. This engrossing first Test match in Mirpur has welcomed the visitors with a surprising 20-run defeat to the hosts. The Australian batsmen had been rattled down to 244 all out whereas their opponents kicked off their batting onslaught with positive remarks which displayed a healthy 158 for two, but they lost their eight vital wickets for just 86 runs while trying to follow up, which somehow resulted in such kind of denouement. This has been enumerated as their first Test loss to Bangladesh which additionally extended their poor record in Asia – where they have just won two Tests and lost 16 since October 2008.
David Warner’s blistering 112 and his 130-run third wicket stand with Smith (37) had all but with the eyes of taking the team to the victory post, the rest of the batting line-up was required to aid the momentum created by Warner-Smith duo. Unfortunately, all they can was to crumble against the three-pronged Bangladesh spin attack which somewhere landed the Aussies with this shocking setback. “They’ve certainly come a long way over the last couple of years,” Smith said when asked about his impression of Bangladesh.
“I think they’re a dangerous side, particularly here at home as we’ve seen. They’ve just beaten us, they obviously beat England not too long ago, so they’re a team that’s confident in these conditions. They’ve got some good players. I thought that Tamim Iqbal looked very good at the top of the order, chanced his arm and played some good aggressive cricket. Shakib played particularly well in the first innings and bowled well in both innings as well, so their experienced players really stood up in this game for them. I thought they played very well,” the Australian captain added.
The hosts’ victory was manually crafted by their star all-rounder, Shakib Al Hasan. Having scored 84 in the first innings, the left-arm spinner tormented the visiting batting line-up, returning with five-wicket hauls in both innings. Smith was gracious in his praise of the world’s leading all-rounder and reckoned that his team could learn a few tricks from the ace left-arm spinner.
“I thought he played quite aggressively in the first innings. Any width he got, he put away. We were probably a little bit short and wide, our fast bowlers, and our spinners probably just didn’t hit their lengths quite as consistently as we would have liked. I think that’s the key to what Shakib does really well. His lengths are spectacular and he lets the ball do whatever it needs to do off a good length. It’s the hardest ball to play, the one that’s on a good length, and I thought our spinners were a little bit inconsistent with their lengths,” Smith added.
Bangladesh recovered after being reduced to 10 for three in their first essay. This was what Smith reckoned as to be one of the biggest factors for the loss, especially considering that chasing down any score of more than 250 in the subcontinent is always fraught with danger. “I think the first innings, 260 and that partnership as I said with Shakib and Tamim, that really set them up in the first innings,” he said.
“We probably let them get away a little bit. I thought [in] the first innings probably around 180, 200 would have been a good total for us and then in the first innings we weren’t good enough with the bat to get in front of the game, which is always difficult particularly when you’re batting last on a wicket here in the subcontinent. It’s always going to be tough work,” the 28-year old added.
Australia is currently ranked fourth in the ICC Test ratings and the visiting captain believes that their position is a reflection of their recent cricket. “I don’t know if we’re better than that at the moment, that’s a difficult question,” he said.
“I think we’re still a young team, obviously some new players that have come in only last year in the summer and some guys that are still trying to find their way. we’re a young team and we’re a team that hopefully is going to continue to improve. I thought we made some really good strides on our last tour to India, albeit we lost that series. We made some good strides there but as we spoke about before, we made a few of those mistakes in the first innings that were disappointing. We’ve still got a long way to go to rise up in the rankings and hopefully as a group, we can continue to improve and get better,” he added.
The visitors will have at least one forced change to their playing XI for Chittagong after Josh Hazlewood pulled up with a left side injury. He was subsequently replaced by Steve O’Keefe – which means Australia have the option of playing three spinners in Chittagong. ” We’ve obviously got a few options here,” the skipper said. “If the wicket suits, yeah. If it’s a similar-looking wicket to this one out here then it’s certainly a possibility (of playing three spinners). We will have to wait and see when we get to Chittagong what the wicket’s like and make an assessment then,” he added.
Bangladesh hasn’t won a Test series since beating Zimbabwe during the 2014-15 season and Smith doesn’t want to suffer the ignominy of being the first Australian captain to lose a Test series to Bangladesh. “Obviously we’re down 1-0 in a two match series so plenty of pressure to perform and hopefully level the series in Chittagong. it’s another good challenge for this group. Obviously disappointing not to get the result we would have liked here but we’re obviously going to be looking forward to Chittagong and hopefully we’ll be able to write a few of the wrongs that we made out here,” he signed off.