When Hannan stood his ground at Cairns
The newest entrant to the nexus of Test cricket nations, Bangladesh came to Australia for the first time in 2003 for a two-match series when the Aussies ruled the roost of world cricket.
After an innings and 132 runs humbling at the hands of the hosts in Darwin in the first Test, Bangladesh knew all too well that their inexperience and sometimes ineptitude would haunt them throughout their maiden tour of Australia.
In all that doom and gloom, there were some moments, albeit brief, when Bangladeshi cricket supporters could see their favourite players fight and resist the Australian juggernaut with grit and courage.
Hannan Sarkar was among the very few, who stood their ground, defied their overwhelming opposition to earn some semblance of respect down under.
After Australian skipper Steve Waugh won the toss and asked his counterpart to bat first in the second Test at Cairns, the testing Australian conditions, on top of bowlers like Glenn McGrath, Jason Gillespie, Brett Lee and Stuart MacGill awaited the Bangladeshi opening batters, Hannan and Javed.
A technically sound opening batsman, Hannan Sarkar was playing his seventh Test at Cairns, and still not settled in the side. He looked good while batting but didn’t have the scores to back his talent.
The pitch at Cairns was much faster than the one at Darwin, and the tinge of green, especially on good length areas didn’t make things easy for Bangladesh’s openers, against the brand new cherry.
Against such tall odds, Hannan batted with confidence and while most of his teammates were all at sea against the seaming and swinging ball.
He took full advantage early since the Australian bowlers struggled to pitch it in the corridor outside off, too often spraying the ball down the leg side.
Hannan got his eye in with easy ones and twos, and played the waiting game brilliantly. When Aussie captain brought the spinner into attack, he got stuck into Stuart MacGill.
After a solid first session, Bangladesh must have entertained thoughts of a rare 300-plus total when the scoreboard read 155 for 1 in 43 overs.
Hannan Sarkar and Habibul Bashar’s stand for the second wicket of 108-runs brought smiles to the faces of Bangladeshi fans, considering the team they fought against.
His 197-minute 76 in the first innings of that match poured cold water on the prediction of the late David Hookes, the former Australia batsman, who had said had Australia would wrap up the Test on the first day itself.
Hannan scored 76 from 135 balls in the first innings with nine lovely hits to the fence.
He was organised and patient at the crease, and was good enough to score another half-century when Bangladesh came out to bat for the second time to save the match, to avert another embarrassing defeat.
With the new ball moving appreciably, Hannan played his natural game in the second innings at Cairns, similar to his first outing. Calm and collected, he weathered the storm contrary to local expectations at the ground.
He made 55 valuable runs, faced 104 balls and sent the ball across the boundary rope eight times during his vigilant stay at the wicket.
In both innings at Cairns, Hannan was the top-scorer for Bangladesh.
Hannan scored 131 runs in the match, and managed to defy a bowling attack which included McGrath, Gillespie, Lee and MacGill for over five hours over the entire Test.
Hannan Sarkar scored only five half-centuries in his 17 Tests, but three of them came in Australia and South Africa, which says a bit about his batting ability.
Unfortunately for the promising opener, major technical drawbacks and a run of poor scores ended his career after only a handful of games.
Hannan's career lasted just 37 international matches, but he could have easily had a longer run had there been more flexibility in his technique to complement a hungrier approach.