Pacemen put India on top despite Mahmudullah's 96
Mohammad Mahmudullah cracked an unbeaten 96 under pressure but failed to stop India from gaining an upper hand in the second and final Test against Bangladesh in Dhaka, reports Nilankur Das.cricket Updated: Jan 25, 2010 00:20 IST
Murali Vijay and Harbhajan Singh were the first to get to a dejected Mahmudullah Riyad at the non-striker’s end and console him. With a classic off-spinner’s delivery, Harbhajan put an end to the late Bangladesh resistance half-an-hour before the end of Day One of the second Test. Mahmudullah remained unbeaten, four runs short of his maiden Test century, but thanks to his effort, Bangladesh got to 233 in the first innings.
In reply, India were 69 for no loss after 13 overs. Gautam Gambhir was batting on 26 and Virender Sehwag raced to 41 not out off 40 balls.
Earlier, Bangladesh needed to be cautious in the first hour of the play as that was the only time medium-pacers got some help from the wicket.
The decision to bat first was probably taken out of the fear of a huge India total if the visitors were put in first. Shakib took a similar decision ignoring the dew factor in the first match of the tri-series against India earlier this month.
He had then said that had India scored 320-odd runs, his team would not have had the batsmen or the mental toughness to chase it. On Sunday, too, the chances of India batsmen surviving the initial phase and then going on to post a total were quite bright.
But Shakib’s ploy backfired and, as a consequence, by the end of the 13th over, Bangladesh had half the side back in the dressing room.
The Indian medium-pace duo of Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma shared the first four wickets and then Pragyan Ojha — who got the nod ahead of leg-spinner Amit Mishra despite a match-haul of seven wickets in Chittagong — had an over-ambitious Mohammad Ashraful stumped in his first over. Imrul Kayes got a bad decision, given caught down the leg-side. But the rest of the top order fell to poor shot selection.
Shakib and last match centurion, Mushfiqur Rahim, then looked to steady the ship and the hosts went into lunch without further setback. But Ishant struck soon after resumption. With one that jagged back, the delivery he had used to good effect when he came to the international scene but then somehow lost, Ishant had Rahim out leg-before.
Mahmudullah came in at No. 8 and was soon joined by the tail. The wicket had eased out considerably by then, but that should take nothing off his effort.
Keeping Shahadat Hossain, Safiul Islam and Rubel Hossain off strike and showing patience that none of his top-order teammates did, he played some exquisite cover drives and handled both Harbhajan and Ojha well.
He frustrated the Indian bowling so much so that Dhoni was forced to push the field back for him even before he had reached his fifty.
India brought Vijay in place of Laxman and Bangladesh dropped Shahariar Nafees and brought in Junaid Siddique.