Bangladesh beat Australia by 5 wickets!!!

Australia v Bangladesh, NatWest Series, Cardiff
Ashraful hundred gives Bangladesh famous win.

Bangladesh pulled of one of the biggest upsets in cricket history as they beat Australia by five wickets, in an extraordinary match at Cardiff. Mohammad Ashraful was the hero, making his first one-day hundred at a run-a-ball and added 130 in 23 with Habibul Bashar overs to put them course.

They started the last over needing seven to win with Aftab Ahmed and Mohammad Rafique at the crease. Aftab blasted Jason Gillespie’s first ball over mid-wicket for six and then scampered a single from the next ball sealed a win that will go down as amazing in every respect.

It was the fourth wicket stand between Ashraful and Bashar which set up what everyone thought was the impossible. They came together with Bangladesh struggling to up the run rate at 72 for three, as the Australians chipped away and applied a stranglehold to the batting

But they did not panic as the asking rate climbed to seven and a half an over. They calmly worked the singles and then made the most of the overs from Australia’s change bowlers. Brad Hogg was picked off for useful boundaries and Ashraful also took a liking to Michael Clarke’s left-arm spin and Bangladesh entered the final 10 overs needing 73.

Ashraful’s innings showed great composure and all the stroke play that had been talked about before the tour. He was given a crucial reprieve, on 54, when Gillespie dropped him at long-leg from an hook shot. The sun was in Gillespie’s eyes but the catch should have been taken, and the momentum was heading Bangladesh’s way.

Ponting was clearly a bowler short, missing the offspin and medium-pace of Andrew Symonds, who was left out of this match just before the toss for disciplinary. It was the start of a very bad day for the Australians. Ponting spent huge amounts of time talking to his bowlers but could nothing to stem the runs from Ashraful and Bashar.

Bashar was run out as the tension mounted (202 for 4) but Ashraful reached his century – only the second by a Bangladeshis in one-day international cricket – with a single to long-on. He fell next ball, picking out long-on (227 for 5) off Gillespie, but Rafique found the off-side boundary twice and Aftab kept his cool – a fine feat given what was about to be achieved.

The start of the innings had suggested that 250 would be too much for Bangladesh as McGrath and Gillespie found a probing line and length early in their spells. Nafees Iqbal never settled at the crease and, after being repeatedly beaten outside off stump, finally got an edge off Jason Gillespie (17 for 1).

Tushar Imran became overconfident and attempting to loft Hogg over mid-off could only find Simon Katich, who took a fine, leaping catch (51 for 2). Javed Omar was playing the anchor role, happy to bat within his limits and occasionally unleashing his favourite square cut. He had batted through 21 overs for his 19 runs then played a disappointing cut shot into the hands of Matthew Hayden at point (72 for 3) and Australia’s pressure seemed to starting to tell.

Bangladesh’s day started in perfect fashion removing Ponting and Adam Gilchrist within the first six overs, as they restricted Australia to 249 for 5. A partnership of 108 for the fourth wicket between Damien Martyn and Michael Clarke formed the backbone of Australia’s total after they had slipped to 57 for 3 in the 16th over. The innings was rounded off with a energetic stand of 63 in 6.3 overs between Michael Hussey and Simon Katich.

Martyn, after facing 112 balls and hitting just two fours, located deep cover as he decided to start throwing the bat (165 for 4). Tapash Baisya was the bowler who benefited and struck again when Clarke holed out at cover shortly after reaching his half-century from 82 balls (183 for 5). They were usually becalmed during the middle period of the innings – as Rafique and Aftab completed 20 overs between them for 79 runs – and at one stage there were 96 balls between boundaries.

From 9 for 2 Matthew Hayden began the recovery with 37 but Nazmul Hossain followed up Mashrafe Mortaza’s impressive opening burst. In the 16th over Hossain got reward for his hardwork as he nipped on back at Hayden who dragged it into his stumps (57 for 3).

Australia showed some of their one-day experience as they made 93 in the final 10 overs. When Bangladesh struggled in the first half of their innings the match was all set to be a story of a valiant effort but with Bangladesh falling short again. But cricket has a habit of throwing up the unexpected at the most amazing of times and June 18 at Cardiff will go down as one of Bangladesh’s greatest days on a cricket field.