Australia aims to salvage pride in second Test

It will be trying to avoid an embarrasing whitewash when it takes on the host in Chittagong on Monday.

Darren Lehmann accepted his team was “not good enough.”   -  AFP

Heavily criticised after its first-ever Test defeat to Bangladesh, Australia is desperate to restore some lost pride when the teams meet in the second and final Test starting in Chittagong on Monday.

The visitor was slammed by Australian media when it lost the opening match in Dhaka by 20 runs and coach Darren Lehmann admitted the players had been stung by the level of condemnation of the team’s performance. “The boys are all hurting with the criticism you get,” Lehmann told reporters. “(But) you deserve that when you don’t win. It is not good enough when you lose a Test match to anyone, but Bangladesh are tough at home.”

Read: Matt Renshaw hopes to learn from Warner

Chittagong does at least hold some fond memories for the Australians as they try to salvage a drawn series. The only previous time they played a Test there, in 2006, they won by an innings and 80 runs with night-watchman Jason Gillespie scoring an unbeaten double-century.

Formidable

But Bangladesh is a more formidable opponent now and the biggest challenge facing Australia’s players is to find a way to combat the home team’s spinners. All but one of Australia’s 20 wickets in the series opener fell to spin, and the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium pitch in Chittagong is expected to favour slow bowling.

Australia has recalled left-arm spinner Steve O’Keefe for the injured Josh Hazlewood and could play him alongside its frontline spinners Nathan Lyon and Ashton Agar. O’Keefe was impressive during this year’s Test series in India, capturing 19 wickets, including a match-winning 12-wicket haul in the first Test victory.

Australia eventually lost the series 2-1 but Lehmann hinted that O’Keefe could be rushed back into the playing side. “The way the wicket was you are not going to have too many overs bowled by the quicks as the game goes on and we expect the same sort of pitch,” he said.

‘Expecting another win’

Bangladesh left-arm spinner Taijul Islam, who took the match-clinching final wicket in Dhaka, said the home side was also hoping for a turning pitch in Chittagong as it aims to effect a cleansweep. “I hope it (wicket) will remain the same because we are expecting another win,” he said. “We have the capacity to win the series 2-0. We nearly did against England last year. So I don’t think it is impossible to beat Australia again,” he said.

Bangladesh came agonisingly close to beating England in Chittagong last year when it needed 33 runs on the fifth day with two wickets in hand. Ben Stokes took the last two wickets to win the match for England but Bangladesh won the second match to tie the series. The only two times Bangladesh has managed a cleansweep were against an under-strength West Indies side in 2009 and against a struggling Zimbabwe in 2014.

Squads
  • Bangladesh: Mushfiqur Rahim (captain), Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Imrul Kayes, Shakib Al Hasan, Nasir Hossain, Sabbir Rahman, Mehedi Hasan, Shafiul Islam, Taijul Islam, Mustafizur Rahman, Mominul Haque, Liton Das, Taskin Ahmed.
  • Australia: Steve Smith (captain), David Warner, Ashton Agar, Hilton Cartwright, Pat Cummins, Peter Handscomb, Matthew Wade, Steve O’Keefe, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Glenn Maxwell, Matt Renshaw, Mitchell Swepson and Jackson Bird.