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‘They need all the exposure’
- Waugh lauds Bangladesh’s morale-boosting victory over Northern Territory CM’s XI

Darwin: Steve Waugh says his Australian cricket team aims to “put on a good show” against Bangladesh here this week.

Waugh arrived here Sunday unmoved by critics of the two-Test series between the top and bottom-ranked sides who have predicted all sorts of Test records will tumble.

Former Test batsman David Hookes said last week Bangladesh didn’t deserve to be in Test cricket and urged the Australians to try to win the first Test, starting Friday, within one day. Bookies are offering odds of 17-1 on that happening.

But Waugh said speculation about how long the match would run was “more a problem for the media”. “It’s exciting, it’s a new venue for us all, we’ve never played Bangladesh in a Test before, in a Test series, so we’re looking forward to the challenge of playing up here,” Waugh said.

“At this stage of Bangladesh’s experience to play against the supposed top five in world cricket is important.”

Waugh was pleased Bangladesh pulled off a second consecutive morale-boosting victory here Sunday when they downed the Northern Territory Chief Minister’s XI by two wickets following a narrow win over the Australian Cricket Academy in Brisbane.

“It’s good to see,” said Waugh. “Emerging sides, they need a lot of match practice. They’ve played a couple of good games and I’m sure their form is okay. We haven’t played much cricket in the last four or five weeks so it should be a good contest,” he said. “We expect it to be a Test match and we’re going to play as hard as we can,” Waugh said. “I don’t know what the result is going to be, but we play as if it’s going to be a tough Test match.”

He gave little indication whether Australia would continue the tactic of playing five specialist bowlers which was used on the recent West Indies tour when pacemen Glenn McGrath, Jason Gillespie, Brett Lee and Andrew Bichel were joined by spinner Stuart MacGill.

“We’ll go in with the best balanced side possible,” he said. “The West Indies wre a bit different because the wickets were slow and low. We needed an extra bowler. “If we think we need that, we’ll go with that mix again.

“It’s going to be a big crowd up here and we want to put on a good show. Bangladesh may play well and you never know, that’s what sport is all about.

“It doesn’t matter if you beat them by a massive margin or a single run, that’s what it’s about.” Waugh can achieve another personal milestone if he can score a century in the two Tests as it would mean he has a century against every Test nation. “I haven’t played a Test match against these guys and neither have any of the other players, so to score a 100 is something to look forward to but there’s a lot of work to be done before that,” he said.

The 38-year-old skipper refused to be drawn on whether the Australian team was playing too much cricket — or his retirement plans.

Final warm-up

Bangladesh Sunday lifted their spirits with a two-wicket victory in their final warm-up match. Bangladesh held on for the tense victory over the Northern Territory Chief Minister’s XI, after being set a second innings target of 187.

The win followed a narrow victory over the Australian Cricket Academy team in Brisbane the previous week. After a first innings score of 139 — 50 lower than the local invitational team’s tally — the Bangladesh bowlers restricted the Territory to just 136 in their second innings on Saturday.

Starting the fourth and final day at 90 for four, the Bangladeshis were equal to the challenge, despite the loss of three quick wickets for eight runs late in the game.

Bangladesh coach Dav Whatmore said the win would help the team’s confidence. “I attribute the victory to our second innings bowling,” Whatmore said. “We had a deficit of 50 runs and real desire. To get the opposition out again for that total was very exemplary, very pleasing — the effort was fantastic. That was what brought us into the game.”

Whatmore said the team had improved across the board during their three warm-up matches. “Even with the batting, I think there’s clear evidence in this innings that we weren’t presenting our wickets, gifting them. Javed Omar top-scored with 44 before falling leg before to Adrian McAdam.

Middle-order batsman Al-Sahariar contributed 41 and tail-enders Khaled Mahmud (12 not out) and Mashrafe Mortaza (4 not out) took their side to victory.

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