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Warner stands tall, but Aussie collapse leaves series on knife-edge

Cricket

David Warner’s six-hour stand in stifling-hot Chittagong is unlikely to feature prominently on his action-packed highlight reel.

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But the Australian vice-captain’s 123 in the second Test against Bangladesh could go down as one of his greatest centuries considering the adversity he battled through to reach it.

The left-hander spent 362 minutes at the crease, faced 234 balls and scored just seven boundaries in an immense effort across two days of blazing heat and humidity.

Yesterday he became just the sixth Australian player to score back-to-back Test hundreds in Asia – a remarkable achievement considering his previous struggles on the subcontinent.

His knock paved the way for Australia to claim a solid first-innings lead of 72 runs at 9-377 at stumps on day three.

Warner combined for 152 runs with Peter Handscomb, who was left reeling by the heat and forced to undergo treatment as the pair slogged it out before stumps the previous day.

“It was really, really hard to run between wickets,” Warner said.

“You couldn’t really suck in the oxygen, and the fluids we were trying to get into us you literally felt like you were going to bring that back up.

“That’s what we train for. That time off helped us a lot to gain some momentum and miles in the legs to prepare us for not just here but the upcoming summer.

“We talk about having some things in the bank and that’s what we did. It’s paid off so far.”

Warner famously blitzed his way to a ton against India off just 69 balls at the WACA in 2012.

In Chittagong, he curbed his aggressive instincts and faced 209 deliveries before raising his bat yesterday, having been aided earlier by a dropped catch and a bungled stumping.

The slowest Test century of Warner’s career by far came to an end when paceman Mustafizur Rahman had him caught by a juggling Imrul Kayes at leg gully.

Handscomb (82) was earlier run out by a direct hit at the non-striker’s end while attempting to sneak a single that would have allowed Warner to escape the nervous 90s.

“As I said to him in the changerooms, it’s one of those things where you try and help your teammate out,” Warner said.

“We did speak about it between the overs… he said to me, ‘I’m looking for it’.

“It was very selfless of him.”

Despite the pair’s heroics, the prospect of another perilous fourth-innings chase looms large for Australia unless they can consolidate their advantage today.

Australia will resume with Steve O’Keefe unbeaten on eight and Nathan Lyon yet to score.

Steve Smith’s men had looked primed to build an imposing lead before falling victim to a familiar middle-order collapse.

The visitors lost 6-79 either side of tea with besieged wicketkeeper Matthew Wade (8) and recalled allrounder Hilton Cartwright (18) both dismissed cheaply.

Keeping Bangladesh to a modest second-innings total will be crucial for Australia, but Bangladesh’s monsoonal weather could also prove a setback in their bid to avoid a series defeat, with further rain and storms forecast after yesterday’s morning session was washed out.

Australia’s three spinners should be assisted by a pitch which has started to cause some headaches despite being far more batting-friendly than the one in Dhaka.

“I wouldn’t say the wicket is deteriorating (but) there’s a little bit of rough out there created from the bowlers,” Warner said.

“The middle of the wicket is still nice and true.

“But as the spinners do, they’ll work what they need to do and hit those rough areas.”

Australia’s middle order again proved flimsy under pressure, with Wade trapped lbw on eight by a ripping delivery from paceman Mustafizur Rahman.

Wade quickly called for a review but it was an act of desperation, with replays showing it was hitting leg stump.

Glenn Maxwell (38) wasted another review the following over when he was given out caught behind after edging a delivery from offspinner Mehedi Hasan into his pads.

Pat Cummins then shouldered arms to a Mehedi ball pitched well outside off stump which spun sharply into his pads.

It was given not out but Bangladesh successfully reviewed and batsman Nasir Hossain sent Cummins on his way, standing next to umpire Nigel Llong and mimicking his send-off.

-AAP

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