Australia face the prospect of ending their disastrous World Twenty20 campaign in the most humiliating fashion, after Bangladesh set them a tricky 154-run target in their dead rubber fixture.
The home side, who were boosted by a 112-run partnership between Shakib Al Hasan (66) and captain Mushfiqur Rahim (47 off 36), surged after a slow start to finish 5-153 – taking advantage of Australia’s curious decision to banish their spin bowlers from the clash.
It heaps pressure on Australia’s out-of-sorts batting attack – especially a top order that has failed to fire in their opening three losses.
The two winless teams are playing to avoid the ignominy of being the only Super 10 team without a victory – a feat even the Netherlands achieved on Monday night with a stunning win over England.
Pre-tournament favourites Australia are in the midst of their most inept performance at an ICC event, but Bangladesh have been the other most disappointing side – struggling to remain competitive on their own grounds.
But, after young Australian paceman Nathan Coulter-Nile (2-17) snared two early wickets to reduce Bangladesh to 2-12, the Tigers roared to life.
Al Hasan smashed three sixes and a further five fours in a measured and crucial 52-ball innings.
Australia opted to play seam-bowling allrounder Dan Christian ahead of spin duo Brad Hogg and James Muirhead – a questionable decision considering the impact tweakers have had throughout the tournament, and the undeniable potential of young legspinner Muirhead.
It baffled Australia’s greatest ever spinner, Shane Warne, who was watching from the stands in his role as a TV commentator.
“Bangladesh playing well & Aust not playing a specialist spinner! Strange decision,” he tweeted.
“Why not persist with a 20 year old leggie who spins it?”
Australia have only lost once to Bangladesh in any format – a one-day defeat suffered in Cardiff in 2005.