Dominant India smell victory as Bangla slip

Hosts reduced to 69/2 in pursuit of daunting 415
Last Updated 20 January 2010, 18:24 IST

Gambhir’s ninth Test hundred was the rock upon which India, overnight 122 for one, built their second innings total of 413 for eight declared, setting Bangladesh a daunting 415 to win. The home side was 67 for two at close on the fourth day.

The Delhiite, overnight 47, began the day with a crisply cut boundary off Shakib al Hasan and seldom loosened his grip on the proceedings. It was a joy to watch Gambhir in action on the day, the habitual elegance of a left-hander adorning his strokes that sped to all corners of the field.
India started the day, which began after a 45-minute fog-enforced delay, with a run rate of 5.43, and it was important that they maintain a good run rate to keep Bangladesh under pressure. Gambhir and night watchman Amit Mishra played with the situation in mind as run-rate never dipped drastically.

But Gambhir’s innings was not based purely entirely on belligerence; a lot of pragmatism too was involved in his knock. There was a time when Rubel Hossain and Shahdat Hossain managed to procure a good amount of reverse swing brooking a careful approach from the batsmen.

Gambhir soon changed his approach concentrating on singles and doubles without compromising on the run-rate as India managed to stay one step ahead of the hosts. Mishra too should be given a pat for giving excellent company to Gambhir, exhibiting wonderful application to complete his first fifty in Test cricket.

Just as the thoughts of another night watchman reaching a hundred at this venue gathered momentum, Mishra threw his wicket away chipping off-spinner Mahmudulla to Tamim Iqbal as the 98-run second wicket alliance came to an abrupt end. The last night watchman to score a hundred, double hundred in fact, here was Australia’s Jason Gillespie in 2006. But Gambhir was undeterred at the other end, playing with ease and Rahul Dravid supported him well keeping a steady flow of runs.

Gambhir fell rather unexpectedly. His uppercut off Shafiul Islam ending in the hands of Shahariar Nafees at third man, but his 116, by then, had provided the desired push to Indian innings. The only minor black spot in his effort was a sharp chance he offered to Imrul Kayes at short leg off Shakib; the fielder could not bend in time to collect the ball.
The southpaw’s knock was also remarkable for the strike rate, well over 90, achieved without ever really resorting to ugly ways; also a superb lesson in innings building.

But the Indian batsmen could not exactly build on Gambhir’s innings with expected rapidity as they lost wickets at regular intervals in the post-lunch session, though Dravid was distinctly unlucky to get run out. Set out for a quick single at the invitation of Sachin Tendulkar, the Bangalorean could not ground his bat on time as Shakib’s dive-and-throw rattled the timber.

VVS Laxman was the binding factor in the middle order for the rest of Indian innings, scoring an elegant unbeaten fifty as India swelled their lead well past 400 before stand-in-captain Virender Sehwag declared the innings.

Bangladesh needed a strong start even to entertain the hopes of making a fist of the target, but Zaheer Khan jettisoned Imrul Kayes and Ishant Sharma gave return ticket to an aggressive Nafees as the home side slipped to unsteady grounds. Going into the final day, India will be praying for the elements to relent as they can push for a richly deserving victory in the first Test.

Score Board

INDIA (I Innings): 243 all out

BANGLA (I Innings): 242 all out

INDIA (II Innings, O/n: 122/1)

Gambhir c Nafees b Shafiul    116
(199m, 129b, 10x4, 1x6)
Sehwag c Raqibul b Shakib    45
(77m, 58b, 4x4, 1x6)
Mishra c Tamim b Mahmudulla    50
(89m, 70b, 6x4)
Dravid (run out)    24
(88m, 50b, 3x4)
Tendulkar lbw Rubel    16
(52m, 26b, 2x4)
Laxman (not out)    69
(89b, 162b, 5x4)
Yuvraj c Ashraful b Shahadat    25
(65m, 32b, 3x4)
Kaarthick c Rubel b Mahmudulla    27
(38m, 42b, 4x4)
Zaheer b Shakib    20
(20m, 17b, 3x4)
Ishant (not out)    7
(15m, 14b, 1x4)
Extras (B-1, LB-5, W-3, NB-5)    14
Total (for 8 wkts decl, 87 overs)     413
Fall of wicket: 1-90 (Sehwag), 2-188 (Mishra), 3-233 (Gambhir), 4-245 (Dravid), 5-272 (Tendulkar), 6-313 (Yuvraj), 7-362 (Kaarthick), 8-394 (Zaheer).
Bowling: Islam 15-0-87-1 (w-1), Shahadat 16-1-53-1 (w-1), Rubel 15-0-94-1 (w-1, nb-5), Shakib 27-2-112-2, Mahmudulla 13-0-52-2, Ashraful 1-0-9-0.


Iqbal (batting)    23
(88m, 56b, 3x4)
Kayes c Kaarthick b Zaheer    1
(11m, 6b)
Nafees c Sehwag b Ishant    21
(56m, 27b, 3x4)
Ashraful (batting)    16
(19m, 20b, 3x4)
Extras (B-4, LB-1, NB-1)    6
Total (for 2 wkts, 18 overs)    67
Fall of wickets: 1-8 (Kayes), 2-47 (Nafees).
Bowling: Zaheer Khan 8-3-34-1, S Sreesanth 5-0-11-0 (nb-1), Ishant Sharma 4-1-7-1, Amit Mishra 1-0-10-0.

(Published 20 January 2010, 13:34 IST)

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