Steve Smith, left, and  David Warner greet each other after end of the third day
Steve Smith, left, and David Warner greet each other after end of the third day A.M. Ahad

Warner has Aussies back on top in first Test

David Warner last night returned to his blazing best to lead a scintillating run chase which could be bound for glory in Dhaka today, after spin king Nathan Lyon earlier revived Australia's first Test hopes against Bangladesh.

Australia stared chastening defeat square in the eye on day three, only to stage a gutsy comeback that is now pinned on a match-defining partnership between Warner and the skipper Steve Smith.

Warner had been under the microscope over his mounting run of outs on the sub-continent, but last night's courageous knock illustrated why he has been crowned Australia's Allan Border Medallist two years running.

Growing in confidence with every ball he stroked, Warner had by stumps guided Australia from being 265 behind to a position of strength at 2-109. As long as Warner (75 not out off 96 balls) remains at the crease, the 156 left needed to pull off one of the great sub-continental comebacks could come quickly on day four.

With the captain (Smith, 25 not out) and vice-captain charging in unison (partnership unbeaten on 81), Australia will be rightly confident. But the snap departures of Matt Renshaw and Usman Khawaja last night was a sharp reminder how collapses are never far away on a fourth-innings deck that will continue to break up and spin.

This epic David v Goliath Test match remains in the balance but just like he's done on countless occasions on fast pitches, Warner single-handedly turned the game's momentum with an intimidating and thrilling exhibition of rear-guard batting.

David Warner plays a shot during the third day
David Warner plays a shot during the third day A.M. Ahad

The highest ever successful fourth-innings chase by an Australian side in Asia was against Bangladesh back in 2006 when they mowed down 307, but their next best mark was 195 against India in Bangalore, showing how hard these chases are to pull off.

However, Australia wouldn't have even been in with a shot if it wasn't for the inspiring six-wicket haul and run-out work of Lyon, which came despite oppressive conditions in the field and Josh Hazlewood forced off the field with a side injury that will likely rule him out of the tour.

Fresh from surpassing Australian icon Richie Benaud, Lyon has now flown past one of England's greats Graeme Swann with nine scalps for the match to further build his champion legacy.

Australia's senior men didn't come to the party in the first innings, but in last night's hour of need the captain and vice-captain stood up to be counted.

Nathan Lyon celebrates the dismissal of Bangladesh's captain Mushfiqur Rahim
Nathan Lyon celebrates the dismissal of Bangladesh's captain Mushfiqur Rahim A.M. Ahad

The pressure to avoid an unwanted place in the record books as the first Australian team to lose a Test to the ninth-ranked Bangladesh was enormous, and when Khawaja found another unfortunate way to be dismissed to leave the tourists reeling at 2-28 - still a million miles away from the challenging target - the small but vocal crowd suddenly surged behind their charges with more than 30 overs still left to bat out the day.

It appeared all but curtains for Australia when Bangladesh celebrated wildly thinking they had Steve Smith stumped - a sinking feeling that got a whole lot worse when the captain started walking off the field.

However, replays showed Smith had a millimetre of his boot inside the crease and he survived - a moment that may well be looked back upon as the turning point in a thrilling match.

A few balls later Smith was dropped at short leg on 3 and suddenly Bangladesh might have been having flashbacks to the horror India faced earlier this year in Pune when they let the Australian master off the hook only for him to rebound with one of the most extraordinary fourth-innings hundreds of all time.

But last night it was Warner doing all the running.

For the majority of the tour of India, Warner didn't look like his normal self.

Nathan Lyon, left, and his teammates celebrate the dismissal of Bangladesh's Nasir Hossain
Nathan Lyon, left, and his teammates celebrate the dismissal of Bangladesh's Nasir Hossain A.M. Ahad

Last night though the second guessing went out the window, and Warner took the conditions out of the equation as he smashed 10 fours and a six in a momentum shifting performance that deserves a second Asian hundred to go with his one against Pakistan in the UAE.

Lyon yesterday justified his new standing in Australian cricket as the second highest spin wicket-taker of all time.

His 6-82 from a workmanlike 34.2 overs kept Australia breathing.

Despite the conditions and the loss of Hazlewood, Australian's body language never dropped despite the enormous pressure they found themselves under from the ninth-ranked team in world cricket and Lyon led a late rally with his display also featuring a freakish finger-tip run-out.

Ashton Agar also got in on the act in his impressive return to Test cricket, and took his fifth wicket of the match thanks to a superb low under-edge catch from keeper Matthew Wade.



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