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Sunday, Dec 08, 2019

India vs Bangladesh: Mohammed Shami-led pace attack puts Kohli & co. on top in Indore

India were 86 for one at stumps after Rohit Sharma was caught behind off paceman Abu Jayed for six. Mayank Agarwal, on 37, and Cheteshwar Pujara, on 43, put on an unbeaten 72-run stand to see off the day’s play.

cricket Updated: Nov 15, 2019 07:35 IST
Nilankur Das
Nilankur Das
Hindustan Times, Indore
Indian bowler M Shami (L) celebrates the wicket of Bangladesh batsman Mushfiqur Rahim.
Indian bowler M Shami (L) celebrates the wicket of Bangladesh batsman Mushfiqur Rahim.(PTI)
         

A mismatch was on the cards and so far it has gone according to the script. Bangladesh were bundled out for 150 soon after tea on Day One of their first Test against India at the Holkar Stadium on Thursday and India are on course to extend their domination at home, at 86/1 with Cheteshwar Pujara on 43 and Mayank Agarwal on 37. The question now is whether Bangladesh’s misery will end in three days or four. Day Four is a Sunday and the association would have banked on some spike in gate sales. But going by Virat Kolhi’s intensity and the lack of it from Bangladesh, it seems India might land in Kolkata on Sunday itself.

Bangladesh’s positive intent ended with the toss. Mominul Haque opted to bat first on a wicket which had a fair sprinkling of green and had some life in it. It was a bold statement on captaincy debut: Bangladesh were ready to take India’s formidable and in-form three-pronged pace attack head on. The decision to bat was not based on the assumption that Bangladesh were hoping to make India bat last on a fifth-day wicket. That was confirmed by the skipper after day’s play, but Haque did not really specify what prompted it. He took the blame and rued the timing of his own dismissal. R Ashwin though called Haque’s decision a “really brave” one.

Few would have actually thought that the opening Test of this two-match series between the best and the ninth Test teams in the world would go the distance, especially after South Africa failed to last that long in October. So, why Bangladesh chose to expose their depleted line-up, in the absence of Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan, to the best pace attack in the world remained a mystery. So did the visitors’ decision to not include left-arm pacer Mustafizur Rahman as the third seamer.

Also read: Dhawan opens up on Kohli, Rohit as different captains

The story of Thursday’s morning session was that of ball beating the bat’s inside and outside edges, nudges going to third-man, play and misses, dropped catches—one by the skipper himself and one by Ajinkya Rahane—63 runs and three wickets. In fact, 34 out of the first 50 runs came from behind the wicket. Bangladesh openers—the experienced Imrul Kayes, who has been regularly irregular in the squad since 2008, and young Shadman Islam—were pushed on to the backfoot early. And they stayed there, often failing to even edge the ball because of lack of footwork. Meanwhile, there was a close DRS call of leg-before against Mohammad Mithun off Mohammad Shami, which went with the umpire’s call of impact outside off-stump.

Umesh Yadav got India the breakthrough. Kayes got a thick outside edge and the ball flew to gully where Rahane took a comfortable catch moving to his left. Ishant Sharma got Islam in the next over with a pitched up delivery that swung late, taking an edge of the left-hander’s bat to Wriddhiman Saha. It was the keeper’s 300th first class catch. The ball was still rising when Saha caught it and throughout the day, the pitch gave enough evidence of its hardness. India’s slip fielders however may have misread it and stood a yard closer and that may have contributed to dropping as many as four catches in the cordon.

Rahane dropped three off Ashwin, though one was a tough as Haque had made some room to cut the off-spinner. The other two were regulation but Rahane misjudged the height on both occasions. In the process, Bangladesh’s most successful batsman in this XI, Mushfiqur Rahim got two reprieves till Shami finally got him with one that cut back in sharply and went through before he could get his bat down. Rahim was just beginning to take on Ashwin with a six over long-off, a cut to backward point and a paddled scoop over Saha.

Also read: Happy with my rhythm and clear mindset, says Mitchell Starc

Haque’s front-foot was still outstretched as he looked back at his dislodged off-stump in disbelief and then turned his head to try and retrace the line of the ball Ashwin had bowled. He waited at the crease for a moment and later said it was a “tactical” error on his part that brought about his downfall. But of course he did not expect Ashwin to begin his over with the one that came into the left hander. All the edges Ashwin induced on Thursday—and there were quite a few of them which did not end up as chances—were off deliveries that went on straight or turned the wrong way. The other wicket Ashwin got was that of Mahmudullah, Bangladesh’s second-most experienced batsman. He moved way outside his off-stump to sweep a ball that actually beat his bat by a distance and even then hit the off-stump.

Shami set himself up for a hat-trick when he got Mehidy Hasan with a ball similar to the one that dismissed Rahim, pitching it up full and trapping him leg-before. Bangladesh did not ask for a review but replays later showed the ball would have missed leg. Ishant then got Liton Das with Kohli taking a low catch at first slip with the first ball after tea and that virtually ended Bangladesh’s resistance, or the lack of it. “The wicket wasn’t unplayable,” Haque said pretty much defending his decision to bat first. “Else how did Mushfiq and I get some runs? I knew these questions would be asked because we filed to get runs on board.”