It is ironical, but playing their first Test since becoming the No 1 team, India posted their lowest total against Bangladesh. Their previous lowest was 429 in 2000, soon after Bangladesh acquired Test status.
Stand-in slipper Virender Sehwag said that playing the lowest-ranked team would not play on his players’ minds. But the casual approach of most of them and the way they played their shots does raise a few questions on the mindset.
After most of Monday was lost to bad light, the Bangladesh players were seen batting and bowling at the nets. In contrast, the Indians preferred to stay indoors.
Only Pragyan Ojha, Rahul Dravid, Murali Vijay and Dinesh Karthik trained. While Ojha and Dravid jogged around the ground, Karthik had an intense keeping session and Vijay had a long knocking session with new bowling consultant Eric Simons.
“We are not thinking that we are No. 1 at all. You plan a lot of things getting into a Test match and play accordingly. We do not think too much about what has happened in the past. You have to take confidence from the past and move forward,” Sachin Tendulkar had said. But that has not happened in whatever little play has been possible so far.
After the batsmen disappointed on Sunday, the medium-pacers did not impress in the 17 overs they sent down on Monday. While Imrul Kayes and Shahriar Nafees fell to bad shots, Tamim Iqbal was done in by lack of technique. None of the three medium-pacers put the new ball to good use and failed to make the batsmen play enough balls.
If the trend continues and the remaining Bangladesh batsmen can control their restlessness, Simons will need to spend a lot more hours with the bowlers than he intends to.
India are looking to play 11 Tests over the next 12 months to ensure they have enough scope to defend their top spot. With second-placed South Africa dropping two more rating points over the week to increase the gap to four, India do have some breathing space.
Tendulkar did say on Sunday that the No 1 spot meant a lot to the team. “We have worked hard for it. We have played good cricket consistently for a few years now and that has brought us to this position. It’s not something that has happened overnight. It’s nice to be in this position but we are not taking it for granted,” he had said.
Given the way Australia completed a thumping series win over Pakistan on Monday, they could well threaten if Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s boys do not pull up their socks.