Not for the first time in recent memory, the Australian cricket team got itself into a position of some superiority on the first day of the 2nd Test against Bangladesh, and then somehow managed to allow it to slip from its grasp once again. Perhaps the damage isn’t so bad that it cannot be retrieved, but with an excessive amount of rain expected to come in the back end of this Test match, being smack in the middle of the monsoon season, Bangladesh will feel a lot more safe in trying to wrap up their first ever Test series victory against Australia than the Australians will feel on attempting to level it.
The Australians had done most of the hard work in reducing Bangladesh to 5/117 in the 47th over, removing the dangers of Tamim (9) and Shakib (24) in the process. One more wicket and the tail would be exposed, and a total surely of no more than 170 looked in the offing. Nathan Lyon had been superb, picking up the first four wickets, all to LBWs. Once again though, the bowling attack found the second half of the day more taxing, and their ability to strike was compounded. The lion-hearted Pat Cummins was forced to do the pace work on his own and despite his endeavours he was unable to find a way through. The recalled Steve O’Keefe was steady, but after a six month layoff from cricket and the batsmen not taking any overt chances, he was nullified as well. It left the trio of Mushfiqur (62 not out), Sabbir (66) and Nasir (19 not out) to bat through the remainder of the day, and finish at 6/253, and holding the strength of the game in their hands.
So what is the pattern here for Australia? It all happened in the 1st Test, and again Bangladesh had been allowed to escape their clutches. Certainly, one wonders on the usefulness of the two all-rounders chosen in Glenn Maxwell and Hilton Cartwright. Together they bowled a total of nine overs, a tenth of the ninety bowled for the day. Given that Cartwright had been chosen as a medium pace option to support Pat Cummins, and Smith chose to open the bowling with Lyon anyway, it makes you wonder about the sense in choosing him above specialist batsmen Usman Khawaja, no matter what his form may be like. The jury will probably be out until Cartwright bats, but both he and Maxwell would need to score some runs in order to justify their continued presence in the Test team with little or no form behind them.
The second day of the Test will be all important. If Bangladesh can get away to a score of 350 then considering the rain that is forecast they could well be almost safe. If Australia can dismiss them for under 300 and their faltering batting line up can find a way to manufacture a total, then their cause of trying to level the series may not yet be gone.