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Saturday, Dec 07, 2019

India vs Bangladesh: As different as night and day

When Ebadot tried to lure Kohli into indiscretion by bowling wide outside off-stump, he was driven past extra-cover. A cover-driven boundary off Al-Amin Hossain followed after reaching his half-century with a pull off Ebadot.

cricket Updated: Nov 23, 2019 09:19 IST
Dhiman Sarkar
Dhiman Sarkar
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
Indian captain Virat Kohli lift his bat to mark his 50 run score.
Indian captain Virat Kohli lift his bat to mark his 50 run score.(Samir Jana / Hindustan Times)
         

The colour of the ball changed, Bangladesh lack of fight didn’t. By stumps on Friday, the first day of the first pink ball Test in India, the question being asked was whether a fourth-day ticket would be worth anything more than a collectible. By then, India had reached 174/3, 68 in front with Virat Kohli batting like the ball’s colour didn’t matter. For Bangladesh, dismissed for 106 with Ishant Sharma taking a fifer, it was looking like Indore revisited. The on-driven four by Kohli, off Taijul Islam—a concussion substitute for Nayeem Hassan who was hit on the head by Mohammed Shami—in the 35th over was an example of how different batting looked when India were in.

The way Kohli’s drive bisected the bowler and mid-on was a lesson in geometry; the manner in which his wrists worked the ball the acme of batsmanship. The earlier on-drive off Ebadot was good but it is not unusual for Kohli to improve on a masterpiece. A streaky four off the first delivery he faced was how Kohli’s innings begun after Rohit Sharma had shouldered arms to one from Ebadot that jagged back.

Also read: Ishant, Shami, Umesh put India in command on opening day of pink-ball Test

Ebadot celebrated with a military salute routine that looks like a toned down version of what Sheldon Cottrell made famous. By the time Kohli hit his second boundary—caressing a straight drive past bowler Abu Jayed—Kohli had faced one more delivery. The only false shot, thereafter, in his unbeaten knock of 59 was in the 30th over when Kohli’s effort to glide Abu Jayed went in vain. With Kohli was Ajinkya Rahane on 23.

When Ebadot tried to lure Kohli into indiscretion by bowling wide outside off-stump, he was driven past extra-cover. A cover-driven boundary off Al-Amin Hossain followed after reaching his half-century with a pull off Ebadot.

Pujara was the first Indian to get to that landmark, having no trouble settling in after Al-Amin dismissed Mayank Agarwal. Like in Indore, he changed gears early and with VVS Laxman and Gundappa Viswanath in the house, Pujara produced an exhibition in wristy shots. There was a steer off Al-Amin, two balls before he dropped Rohit Sharma at deep fine leg on 12. After tea, Jayed strayed down leg-side and Pujara turned it past fine-leg.

Also read: ‘Remember Nehra sledging Ponting, Waugh’: Laxman recalls 2001 Eden Test

When Jayed dropped it short, Pujara punched him past backward point; when he bowled full, it was whipped past square-leg. A pull off Jayed took Pujara to 49 and he got to his 24th half-century with a dab past point. Pujara and Kohli added 94 for the third wicket and it snuffed out whatever hopes Bangladesh had of getting back into the game after their batting lasted one session and 54 minutes.

Ishant Sharma’s first five-wicket haul in 12 years in India came on either side of lunch. Imrul Kayes fell to one that straightened after angling in and Mahmudullah was dismissed by a superb catch from Wriddhiman Saha, the wicket-keeper plucking the ball from near first slip Kohli’s feet. Yadav looked innocuous in his first three overs but brought on from the Club House End, he got Mominul Haque with Rohit diving to his right like a goalkeeper this time at second slip.

Kohli had spoken about fielding being a challenge with specific reference to catching behind the wicket but he needn’t have worried. Two balls later, Mohammed Mithun played on—Mushfiqur Rahim fell in a similar manner to Shami—and summing up Bangladesh’s woes was the gap their frontline batsmen left between bat and pad.

Bangladesh’s misery was compounded by Liton Das being hit on the head by Shami and making way for Mehidy Hasan as a concussion substitute. Both are stable but under observation. This is the first time two subs are being used in a Test. For selector and former captain Habibul Bashar the batting stemmed from lack of self-belief. Bashar pointed out that all these batsmen have got big runs—Kayes was part of a world record opening stand of 312, in 2015, Haque has eight Test tons and Rahim has two double-centuries and a century in West Indies—and that the number of first-class games too has increased since his time. Khaled Mashud Pilot, another Bangladesh skipper, said it was down to lack of planning at Bangladesh Cricket Board.

“We have funds now but that is not enough. By appointing top coaches for the senior team you will make marginal improvements because the players who have come this far are already set in their ways. We need proper coaching and the right environment at the grassroots for our cricketers to grow. It is easy to make an impact in limited overs cricket not in Tests,” said Pilot.

Batting after winning the toss was a sign that they are not here to serve balls to India, said Bangladesh coach Russell Domingo. That they couldn’t walk the talk was another story.