Bangladesh's secret plan to combat Smith | cricket.com.au

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Bangladesh's secret plan to combat Smith

After world's best Test batsman was undone by spin, teenager reveals it was all part of captain Mushfiqur's plan

Teenage spin sensation Mehedi Hasan revealed Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim came up with the plan that brought about the day two downfall of the world's No.1 Test batsman Steve Smith.

Mehedi landed the most telling blow of the first Test so far in the third over of the second day when he had an advancing Smith play all around an off-break that clipped the leg-stump.

Coming into the Dhaka Test, the Australia captain previously had few issues dealing with right-arm off-spin; he'd scored 1,168 runs at 97.33 against them and holds strong records against its leading recent exponents, the likes of England's Graeme Swann and India's Ravi Ashwin.

But Mehedi told reporters after play Mushfiqur had suggested he bowl around the wicket to the prolific Smith in a bid to negate his sharp footwork.

Aussie sink into deep trouble on day two

"We had a plan for Smith," said Mehedi, who also claimed the scalps of David Warner and Matthew Wade to finish with 3-62.

"When I bowled to him yesterday, Mushfiqur told me that I should bowl around the wicket to him.

"If I can bowl in the right place, we can stop him. He won't be able to use his feet.

"There will be a chance to get him out stumped or get a catch somewhere.

"I listened to him, bowled around the wicket and it made my job easy."

Mehedi celebrates bowling Smith // Getty
Mehedi celebrates bowling Smith // Getty

It proved a canny ploy, though Bangladesh may well have surprised themselves considering Smith's aptitude for right-arm offies and showing signs of being more vulnerable spinners whose stock ball turns away from him.

In comparison to his superb record against traditional off-spin, Smith averages 34.20 against left-arm orthodox spin, the lowest mark for him against any bowling type.

Australia in general have fallen victim to quality left-arm spin on their three most recent visits to the subcontinent. Pakistan's Zulfiqar Babar (14 wickets at 26.36 in their 2014 two-Test series in the UAE), Sri Lanka's Rangana Herath (28 at 12.75 in three Tests in 2016) and India's Ravindra Jadeja (25 wickets at 18.56 in four Tests earlier this year) have all wreaked havoc.

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Smith, by far Australia's most accomplished batsman on the subcontinent, has generally come out on top in all his battles with the world's leading spinners.

Although Yasir Shah has claimed his wicket six times, the equal-most of any bowler along with Stuart Broad, Smith has plundered runs off the Pakistan leggie, averaging 53.33 against him.

In fact, Smith averages at least 39 against every other slow-bowler who has claimed his wicket multiple times, bar one: Pakistan's Danish Kaneria, who removed him twice and conceded just 13 runs to him way back in 2010.

While Mehedi snared the prized Australian scalp in their first-innings, Shakib al Hasan was the star for the hosts as he claimed 5-68 and is now one of just four bowlers ever to have claimed five-wicket hauls against every other Test-playing nation.

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And, considering that list of left-armers who have troubled Australia on Asian soil, Shakib remains their greatest threat.

"Shakib is the leading allrounder in all three formats," Mehedi said.

"Shakib bowled brilliantly. The rest of us made small contributions.

"I feel proud to be playing alongside him. There's only one Shakib."

Australia in Bangladesh 2017

Australia squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Ashton Agar, Jackson Bird, Hilton Cartwright, Pat Cummins, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Glenn Maxwell, Matthew Renshaw, Mitchell Swepson, Matthew Wade.

Bangladesh squad: Mushfiqur Rahim (c), Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Imrul Kayes, Shakib Al Hasan, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Sabbir Rahman, Nasir Hossain, Liton Das, Mosaddek Hossain, Taskin Ahmed, Shafiul Islam, Mustafizur Rahman.


27-31 August First Test, Dhaka


4-8 September Second Test, Chittagong