Australia v Bangladesh
3rd One Day International, Darwin, 6th September
After slumping to an unassailable 2-0 deficit in the series, the Bangladeshis will be looking to salvage some pride in trying to defy the critics and claim a very unlikely win over world champions Australia.
The touring side have looked out of their depth in the first two matches and have been heavily beaten both times. Having impressed many observers in the 2007 World Cup, their development seems to have gone backwards in recent times and some people are now calling for them to lose their Test match status. However, they have been playing Australia, who can make any side in the world look out of their depth on their day.
Bangladesh have struggled on all fronts with the top score of an individual batsmen being a paltry 30 and the bowling has looked decidedly second rate. One struggles to find any positives from the tour so far, as all the batsmen have all appeared overawed by the pace and nagging lines of the Aussie bowlers and the Bangladeshi attack has served up some buffet bowling that the Australians have happily tucked into. In particular, Shahadat Hossain has filled the role of cannon fodder for the opposition batsmen, suffering with irregularities in his action which have resulted in a loss of the fundamentals like line and length. He is not the only guilty party as the whole attack has looked tame and has not provided Australia with a challenge whatsoever.
It is the batting; however, that has looked the most fragile. Australia have bowled with pace and bounce that has prayed on every slight Bangladeshi fault. Even Jamie Siddons, the Bangladesh coach, has said that his players were scared by the pace of Mitchell Johnson which is not a good sign considering that arguably the quickest bowler in the world, Brett Lee, is not even playing.
A victory is almost completely out of the question for the tourists but they will be hoping to perform to a standard worthy of their Test match status.
It is difficult to tell whether Australia have been playing world beating cricket or if Bangladesh have contributed to their own downfall. I would suggest the latter is the closest to the truth as Australia have fielded a below strength team including many fringe players, given their chance due to injuries to regular first-teamers. They have performed admirably, but it is still to be seen if they can compete with the stronger teams in the world after not being tested in their early matches. One of these, Cameron White, still has a question mark over him. Australia seem to be convinced that he is the answer to the spin problem and have persisted with his leg-spin throughout the series so far. It has been the perfect opportunity to experiment with his bowling and Bangladesh have struggled against him, but the jury is still out as his bowling looks nothing more than mediocre at the moment and he will have to improve considerably to succeed in the forthcoming tour to India.
Australia will have time to mull over this conundrum in the break between the imminent whitewash of the visiting minnows and the tour to India, but the immediate task is to brush aside the hapless Bangladeshis which, if the rest of the series is anything to go by, will not take much effort at all.
© Cricket World 2008