Peter Handscomb feels the heat in Chittagong. Photo: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images
Peter Handscomb feels the heat in Chittagong. Photo: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

Handscomb loses 4.5kg during knock for Australia

THE spirit of Dean Jones has risen from the dust to revive Australia's fortunes in Chittagong, as a distressed Peter Handscomb pushed bravely through the pain barrier in the gripping series decider.

David Warner played a brilliant role in turning the tables on Australia's diabolical batting history on the sub-continent, while Handscomb revived memories of Jones' heroics in the 1986 tied Test as he defied extreme heat stroke to remain standing at stumps on day two.

Back-to-back centuries beckon for Warner (88 not out) who helped rally a visibly ill Handscomb like a trainer urges his fighter through one more round and Australia went to stumps trailing by just 80 runs and in a commanding position at 2-225.

In excruciating 40 degree temperatures and 80 per cent humidity, Handscomb somehow stopped himself from collapsing and kept his mind clear enough to hold his wicket and is on the verge of capping off a courageous career-defining knock when he resumes on 69.

Fellow Victorian Jones was in an almost delirious state during his famous double hundred in Madras, when he lost staggering amounts of weight, vomited and needed assistance getting his clothes off at the end of play.

Australia's Peter Handscomb, left, and David Warner run between the wickets
Australia's Peter Handscomb, left, and David Warner run between the wickets A.M. Ahad

Handscomb lost an incredible 4.5kg in his two and a bit hours at crease and was rushed straight into an ice bath to ensure his floppy white hat wasn't the only throwback to Jones' finest hour.

"Really gutsy,” said coach Darren Lehmann.

"Obviously it's pretty hot out there, we saw that (on Monday) and you have to work really hard for your runs.

"To get through and the way they played was excellent. They're in the ice baths now and we'll leave them with the medical team to get them right for (on Wednesday). It was a very special day and hopefully they can kick on.

"It's really just focusing on each ball and trying to get through. I thought they used their feet really well, playing forward and back, made good decisions and towards the end of the day. It was just about getting through each ball and just take your time. The umpires handled it really well and so did the Bangladesh team to make sure they were right to play.

"They're in the ice baths at the moment, they'll be fine, they're back tomorrow and away we go. They're just exhausted.”

Warner and Handscomb's unbeaten 127-run partnership amid the debilitating conditions sent a powerful message to the dressing room, and both men are in the box seat to have tons by lunch on Wednesday.

Put in to bat 15 minutes before lunch, Australia stood up to be counted.

Australia's Peter Handscomb plays a shot
Australia's Peter Handscomb plays a shot A.M. Ahad

Australia will need every run of the innings lead they appear likely to acquire in the series decider, as they brace to bat last on a crumbling wicket when everything will be on the line.

But in response to last week's embarrassment in Dhaka, Australia's top order for once looked entirely comfortable and confident when the ball spun and the temps soared.

That said, there was no getting away from the bitter sweetness of it all because in the cold light of day this Test might help Australia save face, but it's too late to bring back the opportunity already squandered.

After the inroads made in these conditions in India earlier in the year, this was proof of how this Australian team can and should bat.

"Very much so,” said Lehmann.

"Obviously it's a different wicket to be fair. It hasn't done as much as the first Test, it's a pretty good wicket, a more traditional subcontinental wicket. It will start spinning as the game goes on. We've played well but tomorrow is another day.”

Steve Smith looked in vintage touch for his flying 58 off 94 balls, before the captain had an inexplicable brain fade and cost himself a big century.

Smith and Warner had combined brilliantly for 93 after Matt Renshaw had sent shockwaves through the dressing room when he was caught spectacularly down the leg side by flying Bangladeshi keeper/skipper Mushfiqur Rahim.

Unexpected wickets have so often snow balled into crippling batting collapses for Australia on the sub-continent, and Smith's wicket sparked one as recently as in Dhaka when the tourists crumbled meekly on the last day.

But Warner and Handscomb put their shoulders to the wheel and soon put Mushfiqur to the sword with a superb stand that Australia will hope has plenty left in it on day three.

Handscomb did unbelievably well to remain standing let alone not out by stumps, as he sought treatment from Australian doctor Geoff Verrall.

The Victorian slumped to the ground after completing a single and lurched forward as if he wanted to vomit, before collapsing back before teammates rushed to his aid with cold packs and water.

Australian players were adamant that day one of the match was the toughest physical day of Test cricket they've ever had, and the bowlers were again indebted to spin leader Nathan Lyon for taking his fourth career haul of seven wickets or more to finish with 7-94 and end Bangladesh's innings at 305 all out.

Warner then took centre stage and although he may not have dominated with the sheer power he did in his drought-breaking ton in Dhaka - he showed just how many gears he has to his game.

The opener fought hard, saw off Smith's unexpected departure and got Handscomb's head in the game.

Warner should have been stumped by a ball that virtually rolled late in the day when on 73, only for Mushfiqur to make a complete meal of it - just like he did with his bowling changes and fields.

He was given a life on 52 as well, but was dropped at short leg.

Handscomb racked up his 50 off just 74 balls and after showing so much promise in innings in India - he finally kicked on with the job.

It's his finest knock since he and Shaun Marsh saved the Ranchi Test, and he could be on the verge of something truly special today.

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