It's Sunday. How about starting with a joke? Indian tourist in Bangladesh to Indian cricketer in Bangladesh: I’m off to the factory outlets. Bargain clothes there. Indian cricketer: I’m off to the stadium. Bargain records there.
Dinesh Karthik treated himself to his first Test century, Rahul Dravid his 24th and Sachin Tendulkar to his 37th on the second day of the second Test against Bangladesh in Dhaka on Saturday. Then Zaheer Khan cleaned up the Bangla top order to set India up for a big win. A run and wicket sale was on at the Sher-E-Bangla stadium.
India declared at 610 for three in the final session, later than expected. But on a day of individual milestones, Dravid had to wait till Mahendra Singh Dhoni completed his 50 before closing the innings. Besides, if there was anyone who deserved to be given time to splash in the fountain of statistics, it was Dhoni. His entertaining innings, embellished with three sixes off left-arm spinner Mohammad Rafique, stirred up an afternoon dulled by the unadventurous acquisition of some of the Indian batsmen.
The same wicket that looked lifeless when the Bangladeshis bowled hissed with venom when the Indians bowled. Bangladesh made a bizarre start, losing four wickets for seven runs, the first — Javed Omar — on the opening delivery of the innings off Zaheer. Rajin Saleh and Shakib Al Hasan prevented a mauling. At stumps Bangladesh were 58 for five. They would have been worse off had Karthik not dropped Shakib and Saleh.
Zaheer was the main destroyer with three wickets while RP Singh and Anil Kumble struck once each. Debutant Ishant Sharma got his big chance, though he started with a no-ball.
While the batsmen gorged on personal glory, India as a team set a world record. For the first time in the history of cricket, a team’s top four batsmen (Karthik, Wasim Jaffer, Dravid and Tendulkar) reached three figures. Bangladesh’s howling analysis, we mean bowling analysis, reflected the toil and agony of their bowlers. Many overs sent down, little success achieved. The curator better get out of town for a few days.
Karthik, 21, had retired hurt due to cramps while on 82 on Friday. He resumed after Dravid’s departure. The
Bangladesh bowlers had flagged too much to bother the young opener, and he knocked the eighteen runs he needed for his maiden Test hundreds off 27 deliveries. He got applause from wife Nikita and a hug from Tendulkar.
Given the heat, the slow wicket and the fact that he has spent 17 of the 34 years of his life playing, Tendulkar played a painstaking knock. He had taken 31 deliveries to score nine runs on Friday. On Saturday, he started well, adding 41 runs in 67 balls to reach 50. But then he slowed again, using 102 deliveries more for his next 50 runs and his 37 th Test hundred.
Tendulkar’s strike rate was only 53.98, that too only after some belated free hitting after he had scored his hundred. All the centurions, Dravid included, were faster than him. The captain scored at a healthy 73.29.
Even as the Indian score swelled — though not as quickly as the team would have liked — there was no sign of a declaration. Of course, there was no way Dravid was going to declare before Tendulkar got his ton.
Don’t blame pitch: Curator
Curator Badiul Alam Khokon said that the failure of Bangladesh to convert chances given by Wasim Jaffer and Dinesh Karthik on Friday were as significant factors in the plight of the home team as the placid nature of the wicket.
‘Karthik was on ten and Jaffer on 40 when their catches were dropped,’ Khokon said. ‘Had they been taken, India would not have scored as many runs. And today, the Indian bowlers showed that if you bowl well, you could take wickets on this pitch.’