Bangladesh celebrate their historic win

Carnival in Cardiff: Bangladesh chased down their biggest total at the time against a Full Member side to beat Australia by five wickets

Chris Young / © PA Photos/Getty Images

I Was There

When Mohammad Ashraful took on McGrath and Gillespie

Fifteen years on, Ashraful, Habibul Bashar, Aftab Ahmed and others look back at that famous win in Cardiff

Interviews by Mohammad Isam and Daniel Brettig  |  

In June 2005, Bangladesh were in the middle of a sorry tour of England. They had lost the two Tests by an innings each and the first match of the NatWest tri-series by ten wickets to England. Of the seven international victories they had against Full Member teams until that point, five had come against Zimbabwe. In Cardiff, they now faced the reigning world champions, Australia.

Mashrafe Mortaza, Bangladesh fast bowler In those days, our focus was to get through the match with our heads high. We were playing a tri-series against the two best teams in the world. On the morning of this match, we just wanted to play better than we did against England in the last game.

Unbeknownst to the Bangladesh team, there was high drama in the Australian camp. They had arrived in Cardiff on the back of a T20I defeat to England and a 50-over defeat to Somerset in a game where they failed to defend a total of 342. As if that wasn't enough, allrounder Andrew Symonds showed up drunk to the ground before the start of the Bangladesh game.

57 for 3: Matthew Hayden was bowled by Nazmul Hossain for 37

57 for 3: Matthew Hayden was bowled by Nazmul Hossain for 37 Chris Young / © PA Photos/Getty Images

Andrew Symonds, Australia allrounder (from Roy: Going for Broke by Andrew Symonds and Stephen Gray, 2006) We were taking on Bangladesh next day and those of us who knew we were playing would normally be settling in for a quiet night. But I realise now that my first mistake had been made well before I stepped out of the hotel doors. "Ah, it's only Bangladesh... a bit of fizz won't be a worry and it will be good for Watto [Shane Watson]," was what I told myself as I headed off to dinner, in some ways giving myself an out before I had even got the first drink in my hands.

Michael Clarke, Australia batsman (from My Story by Michael Clarke, 2016) Next morning I'm on the bus with everyone else, waiting to leave for Sophia Gardens. Someone says 'where's Symo?' Nobody knows. I try his phone. It rings out... In his room, I find Symo passed out on his bed, still in his going out clothes. 'Mate, Symo, wake up!' He just grunts. I open the minibar, grab two bottles of water and pour them over him, slapping and pinching him and eventually getting him awake.

John Buchanan, Australia coach (from an interview with Stephen Gray) We got to the ground, and Punter [Ricky Ponting] came over to me and he said, we can't play Roy [Symonds]. I said: "What? Why not?" and he said: "Have a look at him."

Although it was decided that Symonds wouldn't play in the match, Ponting was still fuming when he walked out for the toss.

Tapash Baisya:

Tapash Baisya: "On that day, I bowled inswingers I had never bowled for the national team before" Hamish Blair / © Getty Images

Ricky Ponting, Australia captain (from At the Close of Play by Ricky Ponting, 2013) I was struggling to control my anger, but at the same time my instinct was still to protect a mate. Too quickly I found myself out in the middle for the toss, and when I was asked about our line-up, I tried to cover things up, saying Symo wasn't playing because he was carrying a cold. No one had made me lie. It was wrong to do so. I felt terribly let down that a bloke I considered a friend had put me in the position where I felt I had to.

But his opposite number, Habibul Bashar, unaware of the goings on, enjoyed walking out for the toss with Ponting.

Habibul Bashar, Bangladesh captain It was the greatest Australia team of all time. They had everything. To go out for the toss with Ricky Ponting was certainly a special moment. We had already been in England for a while. England themselves were a great side, so we were slightly better prepared than before to take on Australia in those conditions.

Bashar received an early gift when Mortaza got the second ball of the match to nip back into Adam Gilchrist's pads.

Mortaza Obviously the early wicket didn't tell us that we would win the game, but I remember that I bowled 6-2-5-1 in my first spell. Our bowlers used the moisture very well in the first ten overs.

From the other end, Tapash Baisya swung the ball enough to keep Ponting and Matthew Hayden in check. Ponting survived a loud leg-before appeal against Baisya off the first ball of the sixth over.

Tapash Baisya, Bangladesh fast bowler You don't really plan against batsmen of Ponting's class. I just wanted to bowl quick on the stumps and let the wicket do the rest. I got excited seeing Mashrafe take the early wicket. I also wanted one. It was a close call but hitting him outside off stump.

Andrew Symonds sat out the game after turning up to the ground inebriated, but went on to play five other matches in the tri-series, scoring two half-centuries and taking six wickets

Andrew Symonds sat out the game after turning up to the ground inebriated, but went on to play five other matches in the tri-series, scoring two half-centuries and taking six wickets © Getty Images

Baisya got his man off the next ball - Ponting missing a leg-side shot to a ball that swung and moved in late. Australia were 9 for 2.

Baisya The second ball was out, no doubt about it, even when I see it now on YouTube. On that day, I bowled inswingers I had never bowled for the national team before.

Hayden made 37 off 50 balls, which included a six and a four off back-to-back balls by Baisya, but he fell in the 16th over, inside-edging fast bowler Nazmul Hossain onto the stumps. The spectators had filled the stands by now, and a loud roar went up to celebrate the third wicket.

Bashar Australia had a long batting line-up, so it was important to break their top order. Once the likes of Gilchrist, Hayden and Ponting get settled, it's hard to stop them, but with a bit of help from the Cardiff wicket, Tapash and Mashrafe bowled really well in their first spells. I knew we had staved off Australia's initial thrust.

Damien Martyn and Michael Clarke had to rebuild and they did, with a 108-run stand for the fourth wicket. But their run rate was kept in check, thanks mainly to Mohammad Rafique, the veteran left-arm spinner, who bowled an unbroken ten-over spell during this partnership without conceding a single boundary.

Bashar It wasn't a huge surprise that Rafique bowled such a tight spell. His signature was his accuracy. He had such good line and length. He had a deceptive arm ball, which he could deliver from the same action with which he turned the ball away [from the right-hander]. He hardly bowled a bad ball, and it was difficult to get him away.

Damien Martyn top-scored for Australia with 77 and his century stand with Michael Clarke took Australia to 249

Damien Martyn top-scored for Australia with 77 and his century stand with Michael Clarke took Australia to 249 Chris Young / © PA Photos/Getty Images

Martyn and Clarke fell in consecutive overs to Baisya at the death and Bangladesh sensed they were still in the game.

Mortaza Tapash had an outstanding game. He was an underrated cricketer, but for as long as he played for Bangladesh, he gave his best.

But Michael Hussey and Simon Katich's frenetic 66-run stand changed the moods of the two camps.

Bashar The way we had started, I was expecting to keep them under 230. We gave away about 90 runs in the last ten overs. In those days 250 was still a good score in English conditions. I thought it was going to be the same old story again.

Jason Gillespie, Australia fast bowler We felt we had enough runs. You know in England the conditions can change and the wicket did settle down somewhat, but the general feeling was, "If we bowl as well as we know we can, we should be fine," But full credit to them. They played well.

Bangladesh had never successfully chased more than 202 to beat a Test-playing nation. In their six previous encounters with Australia, their highest total had been 178 for 7. The mood in the dressing room wasn't great, particularly so for one 20-year-old batsman.

Bangladesh lost early wickets too, but 20-year-old Mohammad Ashraful made an unforgettable maiden century to keep them in the chase

Bangladesh lost early wickets too, but 20-year-old Mohammad Ashraful made an unforgettable maiden century to keep them in the chase Chris Young / © PA Photos/Getty Images

Mohammad Ashraful, Bangladesh batsman I was down on morale. I hadn't done well in the Test series against England. I got out for a first-ball duck in the first ODI. This was my 50th match. I was telling Shahriar Nafees in the dressing room that I hadn't achieved anything so far. He told me to look at it as my first match.

Bangladesh predictably struggled to get off to the right type of start chasing 250 against Australia. The No. 3 Tushar Imran tried to lift the run rate but was dismissed for 24, and Javed Omar was caught at point in the 21st over, to make it 72 for 3

Ashraful I arrived at the crease at the fall of Tushar bhai, who was playing splendidly. [Simon] Katich took a brilliant catch at mid-off [off spinner Brad Hogg]. I settled down quickly with a couple of boundaries.

As soon as Shumon bhai [Bashar] arrived at the crease, I told him we must win this game. He told me to keep batting and that we'll see what happens in the end. I was taking calculated risks at least once every over. Whatever I was trying was coming off in almost every over.

Bashar Singles and doubles were readily available. Ashraful liked to talk during partnerships, so I kept telling him that we should bat till the 40th over while also trying to keep the required rate below eight.

As the required run rate rose to 7.5 in the 31st over, Ashraful scooped Michael Hussey for the partnership's first boundary.

With seven required off the final over, Aftab Ahmed eased Bangladesh's nerves with a six off the first ball

With seven required off the final over, Aftab Ahmed eased Bangladesh's nerves with a six off the first ball © Getty Images

Ashraful Hussey was their sixth bowler, so we needed to make the most of it. The fielder was up inside the circle, so I decided to play the scoop. Then I struck Clarke for four over extra cover.

Bashar Australia had scored 93 in the last ten overs and the wicket was in good condition. There was no lateral movement, so we had that little advantage.

Bangladesh needed 73 to win in the last ten overs. Bashar and Ashraful kept busy taking singles but desperation was creeping in, and it became evident when Bashar was run out after trying to squeeze a run from an overthrow. Still, despite how it ended, the 130-run fourth-wicket stand had given Bangladesh a solid chance. They now needed 48 off 37 balls. New batsman Aftab Ahmed, who had a big-hitting reputation, settled in with a boundary off Hussey before Ashraful unfurled one of his most iconic shots, a swept boundary off Glenn McGrath.

Ashraful I was ready for McGrath's yorker, because pace bowlers don't usually bowl length at that time of the innings. I went down and connected with the sweep. If I had mistimed it, I don't know…

Off the last ball of the same over, the 47th, Ashraful reached his maiden ODI hundred with a single to long-on. It was Bangladesh's second century in the format. Coincidentally, Ashraful had been at the ground for the first one as well - Mehrab Hossain's hundred against Zimbabwe in 1999 - as a ball boy.

McGrath who? Mohammad Rafique hit a four each against Australia's lead fast bowler and Jason Gillespie

McGrath who? Mohammad Rafique hit a four each against Australia's lead fast bowler and Jason Gillespie Chris Young / © PA Photos/Getty Images

At the start of the 48th over, with Ashraful on strike, Bangladesh needed 23 to win. But he fell first ball, trying to chip Gillespie over long-on.

Ashraful I was disappointed to get out, but I never believed we would lose the game. Aftab was at the crease and he had Rafique bhai and Pilot bhai [keeper-batsman Khaled Mashud] waiting to come in. I had confidence in Aftab, who could hit the ball a long way. He was a brave batsman.

Aftab Ahmed, Bangladesh batsman When Ashraful got out after reaching his hundred, I got a bit worried. I wondered whether Rafique bhai and the other lower-order batsmen would be able to tackle the likes of McGrath and Gillespie. But Rafique bhai made it easy by hitting two crucial boundaries.

Bangladesh started the final over with Ahmed on strike.

Gillespie I was given the last bloody over, defending seven.

Ahmed I was expecting a slower ball because he had a deep midwicket in place. A pace bowler usually has a square leg but rarely a deep midwicket. Only a slower ball needed a deep midwicket. Third man and fine leg were in the circle, so I was 90% certain a slower ball was coming.

Australia had already suffered a couple of defeats on their tour of England, but the defeat to Bangladesh was a bitter pill to swallow. It got worse when they went on to lose the Ashes 2-1

Australia had already suffered a couple of defeats on their tour of England, but the defeat to Bangladesh was a bitter pill to swallow. It got worse when they went on to lose the Ashes 2-1 Chris Young / © PA Photos/Getty Images

On commentary, Darren Lehmann also noted that Ponting didn't have a third man, probably in the hope that Gillespie's slower ball would get Ahmed caught at mid-on or midwicket. Gillespie bowled a slower ball.

Ahmed I made a bit of room on the off side and I went for the shot. Mashallah, I timed it well. From the moment I struck it, I knew it was going for six. It hit the sweet part [of the bat]. I may have fallen over if he had bowled a yorker (laughs). It was a Kookaburra bat with a Matrix sticker. It was Enam's [Enamul Haque Jr] bat. I don't know where it went. I can't find it now.

Gillespie It was a nice strike. It didn't go over the rope by too far, and I initially thought it was going to be taken in the outfield. Once it went for six, I knew that unless I did something pretty special, we were going to lose. I felt pretty awful getting hit for six in the last over, but I didn't think I bowled terribly - you'd take 2 for 41.

As the crowd went berserk, the television camera panned towards a grim Ponting. He brought the field in with Bangladesh needing one to win. Aftab again took a swipe at Gillespie, but this time he inside-edged the ball and it rolled towards the wicketkeeper. Rafique hared out of the non-striker's end shouting "Ja, ja, ja, ja [go, go, go]".

Ahmed The fielders were in the circle, so I tried to play over the top again. The ball took my inside edge, but before I could see where it went, Rafique bhai just charged out of the crease. He was already in my half, so I had to respond.

Rafique didn't bother sliding his bat in as Gilchrist missed the throw, and then he celebrated, roaring with his arms in the air.

The Cardiff match is the only limited-overs game in which Bangladesh have beaten Australia. In August 2017, they won a Test against them for the first time, in Mirpur

The Cardiff match is the only limited-overs game in which Bangladesh have beaten Australia. In August 2017, they won a Test against them for the first time, in Mirpur Chris Young / © PA Photos/Getty Images

Ahmed I turned and saw that he just about made it. Do you remember how loudly he screamed after completing the run (laughs)?

The Bangladesh players ran out of the dressing room and onto the ground to celebrate the famous win, even as fans invaded the field. Ashraful couldn't get to the middle in time for a souvenir, but Gilchrist managed to find a stump for him.

Adam Gilchrist, Australia keeper-batsman (from True Colours: My Life by Adam Gilchrist, 2008) It was no fluke. They outplayed us in every department. Their desperation and desire were stronger than ours. It was a horrible feeling once we were in the changing room. We knew the cricket world and all of England were laughing at us. We felt like a rabble. It was hard to fathom how we'd spiralled out of control so fast.

Ahmed Almost every member of that Australia side was either a legend or went on to become one - McGrath, Ponting, Hayden, Gilchrist and Gillespie were already established stars, and then you had Hussey, Katich and Clarke. It was an unbelievable side. But they were stunned. I think Ricky Ponting ended up smiling when it was all over. It was so shocking for them (laughs).

Bashar Athar bhai [Athar Ali Khan, former Bangladesh cricketer] said on commentary, "Take that, Australia", to which Lehmann responded, "Oh we are taking it!" (laughs). I don't think Ponting imagined they would lose to us. We didn't win anything in those days, so I think they reckoned that we would get close and lose, like we often did. That was also our only worry, although it was a relaxed dressing room that day.

There was one final touch of celebration.

Mortaza Some Bangladeshis brought a limousine for us to ride around Cardiff. You know, we had just beaten the No. 1 team in the world.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84

 

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