David Warner struck the most composed century of his international career but Australia failed to capitalise on the opener’s groundwork as Bangladesh pulled themselves back into the second Test in Chittagong.
After monsoonal thunderstorms washed away the entire morning session, Warner notched his 20th – and slowest – Test century to set Australia on their way to a 72-run first-innings lead at stumps.
But Australia squandered the chance to seize a greater advantage in their push for a series-levelling victory, losing 6-78 to finish the day on 9-337 when bad light ended play. Stephen O’Keefe (eight not out) and Nathan Lyon (zero not out) were the not out batsmen at the close.
Left-arm quick Mustafizur Rahman (3-84 from 20 overs), on his 22nd birthday, and teenage spinner Mehedi Hasan (3-93 from 38 overs) led the way for the hosts on another engrossing day at Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium.
Having battled through exhaustion in crippling tropical heat on Tuesday, Peter Handscomb (82) fell short of a worthy Test century when he was run out backing up as he tried desperately to help Warner move from 99 to triple figures.
While both teams began their warm-ups on Wednesday morning, loud thunder and heavy rain kept players indoors for the entire first session before the showers eased in the early afternoon.
The delay saw 33 overs lost in total but as the clouds cleared, Warner (resuming on 88) and Handscomb (69) walked back out to the middle with Australia holding all the cards at 2-225.
While Handscomb’s knock will no doubt go down in white-floppy folklore following his day-two efforts, it was perhaps fitting that his stint was ended in the selfless if miscalculated pursuit of a teammate’s hundred.
With Warner one shy of the milestone and the field brought in tight to prevent the all-important single, Handscomb took off just one step too far before turning to try and make his ground. But Shakib Al Hasan found him just short at the non-striker’s end with a brilliant direct hit from mid-wicket, ending a 152-run partnership.
But a moment of heartbreak soon gave way to an outpouring of elation as Warner pierced the field for his fifth boundary after he’d spent 15 balls on 99. The left-hander roared with delight and gave his two-Test old Baggy Green (he left his original in Sydney) a kiss as he stood triumphant in front of Australia’s change-rooms.
His departure for 123 ten overs later began the Aussie collapse as Mustafizur had the left-hander guiding a short ball straight to a juggling Imrul Kayes at leg gully, who held a smart catch.
Upon Warner’s dismissal, the bowler patted his Indian Premier League captain on the back as a mark of respect for a terrific knock, with the pair forever linked having played together at 2016 IPL champions Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Hilton Cartwright joined Glenn Maxwell after Warner’s departure and with the pair appearing the two most likely candidates for the No.6 spot for this summer’s Magellan Ashes, neither grasped a golden opportunity to push themselves to the front of the queue.
Having made his debut in January earlier this year, second-gamer Cartwright looked assured as Australia passed Bangladesh’s first innings tally of 305. The powerful allrounder floored Mehedi Hasan and left him needing medical attention after the spinner copped the brunt of a booming straight drive, technically his second drop for the session after he put down Maxwell in the gully off Mustafizur, though he would have done well to hold on to this second chance.
But after making a speedy recovery, the off-spinner had Cartwright out on the stroke of tea, a clever straight ball catching the lunging right-hander’s edge and Soumya Sarkar did the rest at slip.
Matthew Wade, also with a shot at securing his Ashes spot, failed to reach double digits for the third time in as many innings this series as Mustafizur trapped him lbw, with the left-hander’s hopeful review delivering three red lights.
Mehedi then accounted for Maxwell – the right-hander’s inside edge onto pad was caught by diving wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim – and Pat Cummins, who shouldered arms to a sharp off-break that struck his pad and was confirmed lbw on review.
Ashton Agar’s first four scoring shots were all boundaries – a classic pull shot off Mustafizur was the highlight – but he was removed by a peach from Shakib, bowled through the gate as he looked to drive against the turn.
Bad light ended play a short time later after just 54 overs had been bowled with the Test still in the balance ahead of the final two days of what has been an absorbing series.
Bangladesh XI: Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Imrul Kayes, Sabbir Rahman, Mushfiqur Rahim (c/wk), Shakib Al Hasan, Nasir Hossain, Mehedi Hasan, Taijul Islam, Mustafizur Rahman, Mominul Haque.
Australia XI: David Warner, Matthew Renshaw, Steve Smith (c), Peter Handscomb, Glenn Maxwell, Hilton Cartwright, Matthew Wade (wk), Ashton Agar, Pat Cummins, Steve O’Keefe, Nathan Lyon.