NEW DELHI, Feb. 12: Twice in successive Test matches before this have Bangladesh imploded in the second innings after holding their own in a neck-and-neck first innings battle - their batsmen playing a significant role in their own downfall. Against India on Day 4 in Hyderabad, briefly though, they seemed to be following the pattern when they lost two wickets for four runs in the second innings. But first innings saviour Shakib Al Hasan, along with Mahmudullah, prevented what could have been another little batting collapse.
Having dismissed Bangladesh for 388 in the first innings, India produced two hours of entertaining batting, where they scored 158 runs and declared right at tea, setting Bangladesh a massive target of 459. In reply, the start wasn't ideal. R Ashwin removed Tamim Iqbal for his second failure in the match before Soumya Sarkar and Mominul Haque put together a meritorious 60-run stand.
Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja then removed both batsmen in three overs to mount back pressure. With seven wickets remaining and the ball turning and gripping, Bangladesh will be hoping for one of their best second-innings batting performance in order to try and save the Test match when they resume Day 5 on 103/3. Sarkar, with his 42, has already shown what Bangladesh need to do to tackle this sort of spin on a surface that will behave like any fifth day pitch. Even Shakib took Jadeja for 10 off two balls, suggesting that attacking the bowling might not be that bad an idea after all.
Heading into Day 4, India would have hoped to wind up the Bangladesh innings quickly, in order to give them at least five sessions to probably bat again and then take 10 more wickets. But a splendid century by skipper Mushfiqur Rahim, his fifth in Tests, ensured Bangladesh stretched India till the last over of the first session. Ashwin finally picked up the cherished wicket of Mushfiqur to become the quickest to 250 Test wickets.
Mushfiqur's century was his fourth outside Bangladesh, and he will probably hold this one closer than the rest, purely because he had to make amends for his poor wicket keeping and captaincy skills while on field. Picking up from his 159 against New Zealand last month, he continued his sublime form, something that will remain key if Bangladesh are to save this Test. India's 299-run lead in the first innings meant that even though they had the option of enforcing the follow-on on Bangladesh, Kohli went against it.
Despite the resistance, it wasn't as if Bangladesh began the day well. It took Bhuvneshwar Kumar just four balls to send overnight batsman Mehedi Hasan to a ball that was a fast bowler's delight. Swinging in, the ball swirled in further to send the leg stump cart-wheeling. Taijul Islam, the new batsman, endured a tough time in the middle against the pace and bounce of Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav.
So did Mushfiqur, who did not lose his nerves despite Mehedi's exit and a shaky Taijul. In fact, he showed confidence in the left-hander and trusted him enough to offer him the strike. After numerous clunky shots, he gloved a ball from Umesh while ducking that didn't rise much. Taskin hung around for a while, and it gave Mushfiqur the chance to bring up his second three-figure score against India. Nine down, Mushfiqur went for a sweep but was out caught down the leg side.
For the second time straight, India wasted both their reviews. Their first referral, an LBW shout against Taijul was a strange one since the ball clearly seemed to be pitching outside leg. The other one looked stronger - a bouncer to Mushfiqur that seemed to have taken the glove, though the replay cleared that it was the arm guard the ball had kissed. Bangladesh however, got theirs spot on when Taskin referred a caught behind and survived, though Jadeja removed him caught at slips soon after.
India came out with a strong reply. The hosts scored 159 runs before declaring at tea. Cheteshwar Pujara's second half-century of the match and a couple of entertaining knocks from Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane helped India score at over five-and-a-half runs an over.
The intention was clear from the moment Kohli walked out to bat after the early wickets of Murali Vijay and KL Rahul, both offering faint nicks to Mushfiqur off Taskin Ahmed. Kohli and Pujara then went on the attack, pulling, driving and taking the aerial route. In a rarity, Pujara outpaced himself and outscored Kohli. The Indian skipper lofted Shakib over long-on, but a repeat of it saw him mistime one to short-midwicket.
As a very unlike-Pujara innings unfolded at the other end, Ajinkya Rahane walked out and struck a few lusty blows, scoring two fours and a sweetly-timed six off Mehedi. One shot too many, Rahane had his middle stump rattled by Shakib. With the interval lurking round the corner, Jadeja scored a four and six off Shakib before Pujara brought up his 12th Test fifty.
Brief score: Bangladesh 103/3 and 388 all out (Soumya Sarkar 42; R Ashwin 2/34) need 356 to win against India 159/4 decl (Cheteshwar Pujara 54*; Taskin Ahmed 2/43) and 687/6 decl.(TOI)
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