In a small chase, they stumbled to 65 for 6 before Agar’s calm helped seal the deal
Australia 105 for 7 (Christian 39) beat Bangladesh 104 for 9 (Swepson 3-12, Tye 3-18) by three wickets
It may not rank particularly high in Australia’s sporting achievements today as the Olympics draws to a finish, but the cricketers avoided a series whitewash against Bangladesh with a three-wicket win in a low-scoring scrap on a devilishly tricky surface.
The home side made them sweat for it, too, and when the chase subsided to 65 for 6 – with 30 of those runs having come when Dan Christian took Shakib Al Hasan for five sixes in an over – it looked like they could pull off an extraordinary victory. However, Ashton Agar produced a calm and clever innings to take Australia to the brink of the target alongside Ashton Turner.
This entire series has been hard work for batters, and this match took it to another level. Bangladesh were set back by the excellent Josh Hazlewood, stumbled against the recalled Mitchell Swepson and only crossed three figures in the final over when Mahedi Hasan struck an enterprising 23 off 16 balls.
When Matthew Wade fell in the first over the chase, missing an arm-ball from Mahedi that went between bat and pad, Australia signalled a change of intent. Christian walked in at No. 3 and it was clear from ball one that he was going to play his strokes. He thumped his second ball for four and then the fourth over against Shakib, he unleashed with five sixes in the arc from long-on to deep midwicket. Only the fourth ball of the over did not go over the rope when Shakib manage to toss one wider that spun to beat the bat. At 45 for 1 after four overs the chase was almost half done, but things had changed before the Powerplay was over with Ben McDermott lbw to Nasum Ahmed and then Christian carving Mustafizur Rahman to point as the left-arm started with a wicket maiden.
Surely not, Australia
The tension started to grow, Bangladesh sensed Australia were vulnerable and it felt like Australia knew it themselves. Except for a thumping inside-out drive by Mitchell Marsh, he and Moises Henriques were cautious. There was no rush, of course, given the required rate but it did not feel convincing. Then a moment of fortune for Bangladesh when Marsh’s firm drive clipped Shakib’s fingers and went onto the stumps with Henriques short of his crease. Alex Carey was kept quiet by Mahedi and then pinned lbw by another superb cutter from Mustafizur. Five balls later, Marsh played inside one from Mahedi and Bangladesh were favourites before Turner and Agar combined. The tension was broken somewhat when Agar slog-swept Nasum with just enough power to clear deep midwicket in what became a little gem of an innings under pressure.
Shakib’s tough night
Aside from the finger-tip run out, it was not a night that Shakib will remember too fondly but it can happen to the best of them. Like most batters he could not get going, labouring to 15 off 26 balls after Bangladesh had made a relatively and deceptively brisk start. He was kept quiet by Agar, Turner and Andrew Tye before eventually falling when he tried to cut Hazlewood. With the ball, he responded well from going for 30 in one over but figures of 4-0-50-0 in a low-scoring match certainly stood out.
Swepson grabs his chance
This was just Swepson’s second outing of the twin tours to West Indies and Bangladesh but he took his chance to make a mark with his best figures of a short T20I career. He trapped Mahmudullah lbw sweeping then pinned Nurul Hasan first ball with a googly although couldn’t join Nathan Ellis with a hat-trick. But he did claim a third when Mohammad Naim, who top scored with 28 off 36 balls, top-edged a slog sweep. If a third frontline spinner is needed for the World Cup he should be locked in.
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo