India build rapidly on slender lead

Rahim, Mahmudulla take Bangladesh to within one run of visitors total

India build rapidly on slender lead

Bangladesh's Mushfiqur Rahim prepares to bat as Indian wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik looks on during the third day of the first cricket test match between Bangladesh and India in Chittagong. AP At 98 for six, few would have placed their money on Bangladesh to cross even 150, but the home side managed much more, scoring 242 to concede a mere one-run innings lead. India are placed comfortably at 122 for one in their second innings at the end of third day’s play for an overall lead of 123.

Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir folded up their natural aggression and seemed to be content with seeing the day out. Sehwag, of course, played those archetypal cheeky slashes over slips off Shahdat Hossain and Shafiul Islam sprinkling an otherwise serene session with smidges of excitement.

Gambhir too played rather sedately seeing his senior partner’s interest in surviving the day. It was a rather surprising deviation from the routine as survival is, perhaps, a non-existent word in Sehwag’s lexicon.

However, Sehwag could not contain his natural tendencies for long and the Delhi Dasher presented the first hint of aggression when he smashed his opposite number Shakib al Hasan for six, but he holed out to Raqibul Hasan in the same over, leaving Gambhir and night watchman Amit Mishra to take India to stumps.

Bangladesh, resuming from their overnight 59 for three, too offered a big surprise after they appeared to have taken a never-ending slide to doom in the morning session. Mohammad Ashraful, who was given a reprieve on zero, resembled a fish gasping to breathe out of water during his brief stay, edgy and totally unaware of his off-stump.

Ishant Sharma ended his agony when the gangling pacer forced Ashraful to snick an outgoing delivery to Rahul Dravid, who took a smart catch at second slip. Raqibul Hasan, a man used to bat in pressure situations, and Shakib, their main hope with the bat, departed without contributing anything significantly as the home side slipped to an abyss. There was a minor scare for S Sreesanth when the ball thudded on to the Kerala pacer’s face while employing his boot to stop the red cherry.

Then came the most riveting passage of play, the seventh-wicket partnership between Mahmudulla Riyadh, who made a well-measured fifty, and wicketkeeper-batsman Mushfiqur Rahim. The talent of these two Bangladeshi youngsters was never in doubt as they have displayed it many times before oppositions like the West Indies and Zimbabwe.

But batting against the world’s number one side offered a totally different challenge. However, these two lads never seemed to be in awe of the situation or the enormity of the task staring at them.

Their primary focus was on surviving the pre-lunch session and the duo did that job to perfection denying the Indian bowlers an immediate wicket. The Indians might have imagined the stand to be a small hiccup but it turned out to be a major stumbling block.

Dogged defence

The afternoon session belonged to the Bangladeshis as they kept the Indian bowlers at bay with dogged defence. Indian bowlers too seemed to let the things go from their hands a bit at this stage, and a pre-dominantly offensive field setting meant there were no dearth of boundaries as edges and slashes often reached the ropes.

It will be naïve to assume their knocks to be just of a hush-hush nature as there were some shining nuggets of skill. Mahmudulla shimmied down the track to loft Mishra over long-on for a four while Rahim smashed the leg-spinner over his head to the fence as Indian bowlers grew in exasperation.

The Haryana bowler broke the 108-run alliance when Rahim could no longer refuse his instincts, playing a cross-batted swipe that ended safely in the hands of Sehwag. But by then Bangladesh had bridged a lot of distance.

Score Board

INDIA (I Innings): 243 all out

B’DESH (I Innings, O/n: 59/3):

Iqbal b Zaheer    31
(75m, 41b, 6x4)
Kayes lbw Zaheer    23
(65m, 46b, 5x4)
Nafees c Laxman b Ishant    4
(4m, 3b, 1x4)
Ashraful c Dravid b Ishant    2
(41m, 17b)
Raqibul c Kaarthick b Sreesanth    17
(73m, 39b, 2x4)
Shakib c Sehwag b Zaheer    17
(23m, 20b, 4x4)
Rahim c Sehwag b Mishra    44
(146m, 104b, 6x4)
Mahmudulla c K’hick b Sreesanth    69
(147m, 108b, 11x4)
Shahadat c Yuvraj b Mishra    11
(16m, 14b, 1x4)
Islam c Yuvraj b Mishra    6
(11m, 8b, 1x6)
Rubel (not out)    0
(3m, 0b)

Extras (B-4, LB-1, W-1, NB-12)    18
Total (all out, 65.2 overs)    242
Fall of wickets: 1-53 (Kayes), 2-58 (Nafees), 3-58 (Iqbal), 4-68 (Ashraful), 5-89 (Shakib), 6-98 (Raqibul), 7-206 (Rahim), 8-228 (Shakib), 9-235 (Mahmudulla).
Bowling: Zaheer 20-4-54-3 (w-1), Sreesanth 11-1-55-2 (nb-7), Ishant 12-3-47-2, Mishra 16.2-2-65-3 (nb-5), Yuvraj 5-1-16-0.

INDIA (II Innings):
Gambhir (batting)    47
(112m, 56b, 4x4)
Sehwag c Raqibul b Shakib    45
(77m, 58b, 4x4, 1x6)
Mishra (batting)    24
(24m, 21b, 5x4)
Extras (LB-5, NB-1)    6
Total (for 1 wkt, 22.2 overs)    122
Fall of wicket: 1-90 (Sehwag).
Bowling: Islam 6-0-35-0, Shahdat 5-0-13-0, Rubel 2-0-20-0 (w-1), Shakib 6.2-0-28-1, Mahmudulla 2-0-12-0, Ashraful 1-0-9-0.

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