Friday, July 18, 2003

The expected happens

Day one of the Bangladesh v Australia test in Darwin went exactly as expected. That is, the game so far is a mismatch.

Australia won the toss and send Bangladesh in, and there is not a lot that can be said about their innings. The Australian bowlers were too good for them and they were bowled out for 97. As is almost always the case in this kind of mismatch, the bowling and the wickets were shared around. McGrath and Lee got three each, McGill and Gillespie two each. The score was perhaps reduced a little by an extremely slow outfield, and the pitch apparently wasn't the easiest ever seen, but I didn't see any of the cricket so I don't know the details.

Australia then batted, and they lost two wickets early: Hayden for 11 and Ponting for 10. However, Langer and Lehmann then stayed in, and at stumps the score was 2/121, with Lehmann on 51 and Langer on 40. Langer was lucky not to be run out at one point, but that is Langer for you. He is always lucky.

It was interesting (although perhaps not unexpected) that the two players who probably spent the most time in the middle during Australia's immense 10 month campaign (Hayden and Ponting) were out cheaply, and the test specialist (Langer) and middle order batsman who spent some of the campaign injured (Lehmann) scored the runs. It may be that these two actually did some practising before this match, whereas for Ponting and Hayden it was probably "A month off. Thank the Almighty for that".

It was also interesting that Australia scored runs at less than 3 an over (127 off 45, or 2.82). As mentioned above, the outfield was extremely slow and the pitch a little tricky, but the bowling was certainly nothing special. Australia like to score at least 100 runs a session: that normally corresponds to 3.33 runs an over. I think part of this may again be that the players are a bit underdone.

Where does the game go from here? Australia could probably finish the game on day 2 if they tried. They could take their score to 300 or so half an hour or so before tea, declare, and then have something like 45-50 overs to bowl Bangladesh out a second time, remembering that an extra 8 overs may be added to the day if "a result is imminent". However, I don't think they will. I am guessing Australia will bat until about an hour after tea, and score around 400-450 before the declaration. It all depends on how aggressive Steve Waugh wants to be, and whether he wants to give his batsmen (and himself) a longer chance to get some fairly easy runs.

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