Australia paceman Josh Hazlewood has declared himself ready to return from the side strain that ended his Ashes series after the first Test in early December.
After their humiliation at the hands of England, Australia relished the chance to do the embarrassing this time, dismantling a woeful Bangladesh by eight wickets to get their T20 World Cup campaign back on track.
After the bowlers, led by a five-wicket haul from Adam Zampa, skittled the Tigers for a miserable 73 – following on from their 84 against South Africa just two days ago – Aaron Finch, David Warner and Mitchell Marsh relished the chance to improve Australia’s shaky net run rate as they look to make it to the semi-finals. That they did it with a staggering 82 balls to spare made it the second-biggest win by deliveries remaining in World Cup history.
It was enough to see the rate climb from -0.627 all the way to 1.031, well past the Proteas (0.742), giving Finch’s team some leeway with one last group stage match to come against the West Indies. No longer do they need to hope South Africa are crunched by England in the final match to sneak into second place in Group A – a semi-final spot is now theirs to lose.
Australia's massive win takes their NRR past South Africa's and they rise up to second in the Group 1 table!
— ESPNcricinfo (@ESPNcricinfo) November 4, 2021
The turnaround from Australia’s 4-1 away series loss to Bangladesh in August, albeit with a second-string team, could not have been more apparent. Australian fans would have been well within their rights to fear this was a danger game heading into the match; as it was, the only danger was alcohol poisoning for any brave souls daring a ‘shot every time a wicket falls’ challenge.
From the moment a searing Mitchell Starc yorker could only be chopped onto his own stumps by Bangladesh opener Liton Das in the first over, it was going to be Australia’s day. The same attack which was taken to the cleaners by England last week looked a world apart from that horror show, though the quality of their opponents was equally stark.
The Tigers, shorn of injured talisman and greatest ever player Shakib Al Hasan and dealing with internal strife, were embarrassed for the second time in a week, their fifth and final loss for the tournament their worst yet in a winless campaign that never got going.
“You’ve got to say, that was a woeful batting performance,” Australian great and aspiring mathematician Mark Waugh said of the Tigers’ effort on Fox Cricket.
“I know Australia bowled well, but that’s not international batting in that innings by Bangladesh. They just offered nothing with the bat.
That is woeful, that’s an embarrassing display. It’s supposed to be a T20 World Cup! You wouldn’t find that in third grade at the park, that sort of batting.”
In perhaps the most brutal clip of them all, Waugh would think better of his last remark, adding: “Sorry, third graders!” He wasn’t wrong.
Just three Bangladeshi batsmen so much as made it to double figures, with none reaching 20.
Zampa may have routed the tail to finish with 5/19 – the best figures at this World Cup to date and just the second five-for – but the damage was once again done in the PowerPlay. No side has found it tougher in the first six overs than Bangladesh in the Super 12s, the trend continuing as Josh Hazlewood and Glenn Maxwell followed up Starc’s early strike with one apiece of their own. 3/10 after three overs, having lost a wicket in each, the Tigers looked bereft of ideas.
— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) November 4, 2021
A pair of cracking boundaries from opener Mohammad Naim were about the sum of the highlights for Bangladesh; the first a cut shot off Pat Cummins, the second a glorious straight drive from Hazlewood. For much of the early overs, the 22-year old looked their only chance of mounting a recovery, but his aggression would get the better of him, bizarrely pulling a full delivery from the latter bowler straight to the former for 17.
4/33 after the first six overs soon became five as Zampa struck with his first ball, Afif Hossain edging to slip for the second of four ducks for the innings. After some resistance was provided by captain Mahmudulluh and Shamim Hossain in the middle overs, the end came quickly. A pair of wickets saw the leg-spinner end his third over in a rush, Hossain well caught behind by Matthew Wade before all-rounder Mahedi Hasan copped a line-ball LBW first up to nicely encapsulate his side’s day.
In the midst of the collapse, Mahmudulluh’s dismissal would symbolise a tournament which couldn’t end quickly enough for Bangladesh: the skipper choosing to walk off before the umpire even had a chance to raise his finger after feathering down the leg side off Starc. Given the effort of the rest of his teammates, you could hardly blame him.
Having to wait several overs for the chance at a hat-trick, Zampa was left cursing after Wade spilled more difficult chance than his, first successful take; but it was the Aussies’ only blemish with bat, ball or in the field.
Zampa: "That was my hat-trick ball"
Wade: "Yeah, I tried to catch it"
— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) November 4, 2021
Zampa would have to console himself with a maiden T20I five-for, Player of the Match honours, and top spot in the group stage wicket-taking charts, tailenders Mustafizur Rahman and Shoriful Islam throwing donations into the tin with a pair of shots that would have been rash even if their team hadn’t been eight down well short of three figures.
Only Cummins would finish wicketless of the Aussie bowlers, Zampa’s late blitz perhaps disguising what a complete team performance it was.
Just as they did against Sri Lanka, Warner and Finch were quick to take to the Bangladesh bowling in response. Finch took particular toll on seamers Rahman and Taskin Ahmed, as the Tigers strangely opted against testing the openers with spin, their nemesis when these two sides last met back in August. Taskin bore the brunt of Finch’s 20-ball 40, the captain bludgeoning three sixes before the bowler would finally find a way past a slog to disturb the stumps. Warner followed the over after in similar fashion after a more sedate 18, but the horse had well and truly bolted by then.
It fell to Mitchell Marsh, recalled to the XI at the expense of second spinner Ashton Agar but once again surplus to requirements with the ball, to put on the finishing touches: another thumping six off Taskin brought up the winning runs in fittingly dominant fashion. It had taken just 6.2 overs to run the target down: the only downside Glenn Maxwell running out of time to so much as face a single ball, let alone play himself back into form.
Australia will have many tougher assignments in this World Cup, and in the months leading into next year’s repeat tournament on home shores. One will come on Saturday evening (AEDT) against the West Indies. But while we may remain a rung below England in limited-overs cricket, this performance did prove one thing: reports of Australian cricket’s death are greatly exaggerated. At the very, very least, it’s in better shape than Bangladesh.
Bangladesh 73 all out (15 overs, Zampa 5/19, Hazlewood 2/8) defeated by Australia 2/78 (6.2 overs, Finch 40, Shoriful Islam 1/9) by eight wickets with 82 balls remaining.