India vs Bangladesh: Virat Kohli’s masterly ton, Ishant Sharma’s strikes leave Bangladesh gasping
The mood, so festive on Friday, turned almost funereal by stumps on the second day at the prospect of an early finish. Bangladesh avoided the ignominy of becoming the second team, after Zimbabwe, to lose a day-night Test in two days and on Sunday, four wickets will stand between India and a dozen successive series wins at home. At 13/4, needing 241 to make India bat, it didn’t look like Bangladesh would survive Saturday. India slipping from 304/5 to 347/9 in 7.3 overs after Bangladesh took the new ball in the 80th over had got Virat Kohli, who scored a brilliant 136, to declare 78 minutes after lunch.
“It was the right time to bowl because the ball was swinging, dew hadn’t started and we could get early wickets,” said Cheteshwar Pujara. “Batting under lights was difficult because the ball starts swinging more. You needed to control the swing.”
With five slips, Ishant Sharma again got into the swing of things, taking three wickets in his first four overs—he finished the night with 4/39. “The kind of lengths he hits makes it very difficult to face him,” said Pujara. Umesh Yadav too had got into the wickets column by the sixth over and the end seemed nigh.
Sharma hit the helmet of Mohammad Mithun and a Yadav delivery thudded into Mushfiqur Rahim’s helmet. “I thought the light and the pink ball had a role to play because as a batsman it is not easy to pick short balls, especially when they come at the pace our fast bowlers have. Their batters have not played any game with the pink ball so it is not easy,” said Pujara.
Then, Rahim and Mahmudullah counter-punched. They added 69 before Mahmudullah retired with a hamstring injury on 39, off 41 deliveries. The Bangladesh media manager said it is possible he would bat on Sunday.
Rahim’s half-century was cheered by Eden Gardens and he added 51 with Mehidy Hasan before Sharma induced an edge off the latter. Hasan was on four when lone slip Ajinkya Rahane dropped a chest high offering in Ravichandran Ashwin’s first over—after India bowled 50.3 overs in the Test.
“The SG ball is swinging a little more than the Kookaburra,” said Pujara, who has played pink-ball cricket in the Duleep Trophy. “There is (also) more assistance for (finger) spinners.”
Bangladesh will go into the third day on 152/6, 89 behind with Rahim batting on 59. Well before that the stadium had begun to empty.
The afternoon though was different. With Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane beginning from where they had left on the first day, ebullience coursed through Eden’s veins. Most of Kohli’s runs came through flowing drives. Without looking to be in a hurry, he and Rahane (51 - 69b, 7x4) scored at more than run-a-ball—their fourth-wicket stand yielded 99 in 92 deliveries—till the India vice-captain was unable to get on top of one from Taijul Islam that was wide and spun away.
Bangladesh’s pacers though were guilty of bowling too full or too wide.
Leaning into a cover drive off Ebadat Hossain, which gave the boundary fielder no chance, Kohli moved to 99. With the next ball, Hossain tempted Kolhi in the area outside the off-stump, but Kohli let it go. As the stadium roared in anticipation of the first pink-ball hundred by an Indian, Kohli calmly defended an Islam delivery before turning the next past square-leg to get to his 27th Test hundred, and 70th international ton (136 – 194b, 18x4).
This was also Kohli’s second successive Test ton at Eden Gardens after the unbeaten 104 against Sri Lanka in November 2017. Kohli would often stand outside the crease to negate the swing. “You can do that but it depends on the pace of the bowler. It could be difficult to do that if he is bowling at 140 kilometres,” said Pujara.
Encapsulating the Kohli masterclass was the innings’ 71st over, bowled by Jayed. The first ball went for four off a thick edge but there was nothing iffy about the next three boundaries. An on-drive, a wristy shot past midwicket and a cover-drive followed. The fifth ball too could have fetched a boundary had it not clattered into Jayed’s legs. The over fetched 19 runs.
“He is a run machine,” said Sourav Ganguly, president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India. To all pre-match talk about sighting the ball being difficult—Kohli too had spoken about it—Ganguly said: “We have seen him bat. It’s actually easier than the red ball.”
Pujara said: “The best time to bat here is in the first session and the last hour. And Kohli has been consistent across formats.”
It needed something extraordinary to end Kohli’s innings. It was provided by Islam, who extracted turn in a 16-over spell from the High Court End. Kohli’s flick was flying to the fine-leg fence till Islam, having misjudged it initially, defied gravity to hold it with both hands.
Batting looked different and difficult after that. A little before Kohli’s dismissal, Ravindra Jadeja had offered no shot to Jayed and had his furniture disturbed. Ashwin, Yadav and Sharma fell quickly and that was cue enough for Kohli to unleash his fearsome trio of fast bowlers on a team that has looked hapless, its batting haphazard.
The day had begun with Magnus Carlsen and Viswanathan Anand, chess world champions past and present, ringing the Eden bell. By tea, Bangladesh had almost been checkmated.