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Australia's batting blues give Bangladesh upper hand


Australia face a monumental battle to avoid an embarrassing defeat to Bangladesh which would leave them at risk of falling to their lowest ever Test ranking.

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Steve Smith’s men handed Bangladesh the ascendancy with a dismal batting performance on day two of the first Test in Dhaka.

The hosts will resume today at 1-45, leading by 88 runs after bowling Australia out for 217.

With an Ashes series around the corner, Australia will tumble to No.6 in the world Test rankings if Bangladesh manage to win and then back it up in Chittagong next week for a 2-0 series victory.

Australia’s mission on day three is to take early wickets and limit the hosts to ensure a gettable victory target on a deteriorating pitch that will only get harder to bat on as the game wears on.

“It’s going to be hard,” spinner Ashton Agar said.

“Any lead is competitive out there at the moment with the way the wicket’s going.

“I’m sure our batters will all learn from our first innings and we’ll bat better in the second innings, so we’re a good chance.”

Star allrounder Shakib Al Hasan again did the damage for Bangladesh, finishing with 5-68 after having top-scored in their first innings with 84.

Agar scored an unbeaten 41, while fellow tailender Pat Cummins chipped in with 25, to help limit the damage caused by a series of poor decisions from Australia’s batsmen.

So often Australia’s saviour, Smith made it to just the third over before throwing his wicket away.

The skipper charged down the pitch to a delivery from right-arm off-spinner Mehedi Hasan that went straight past the inside edge, and he was bowled for eight.

With Matt Renshaw (45) and Peter Handscomb (33) were unable to build on promising starts, Matthew Wade fell victim to Mehedi shortly after lunch with an LBW decision that begged to be reviewed.

Wade opted not to call for the DRS after conferring with batting partner Glenn Maxwell, but replays showed the ball was missing leg stump after spinning sharply across the left-hander.

Maxwell reached 23 before being stumped by Bangladesh skipper Mushfiqur Rahim, after charging down the wicket and completely missing a Shakib delivery.

The likes of Shakib and Tamim Iqbal, who was unbeaten on 30, have proven to be adept at playing spin but left-arm offspinner Agar backed Australia’s tweakers to make an impact on day three.

“Anything can happen on this wicket,” he said.

“Things happen so quickly when the ball’s spinning and turning and as you saw tonight, a few of them really jumped.

“We’re confident that if we get on a bit of a roll tomorrow we can knock them over.”


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