Ishant, Zaheer put India firmly in command

Ishant, Zaheer put India firmly in command

Cricket: Second Test: Feisty Mahmudullah wages solitary battle for Bangladesh with 96 not out

Ishant, Zaheer put India firmly in command

Imperious: Mahmudullah Riyad pulls Zaheer Khan on his way to an entertaining 96 not out on the opening day of the second Test against India in Dhaka. AFP

Harbhajan’s classic off-break breached the defence of Bangladesh’s number eleven Rubel Hossain, the viciously spinning delivery ensuring that Mahmudulla was stranded on 96.

But the youngster’s knock gave Bangladesh’s first-innings total a touch of respectability as 233 looked impossible at one stage, especially when their lunch score read 84 for five.

India had replied with 69 for no loss at close of the opening day of the second Test at the Sher-e-Bangla National stadium.

However, before Mahmudullah blunted their edge, Indians lorded over Bangladesh in a manner befitting of the world’s number one Test side. Intensity was the watchword of India’s performance for most part of the day. Their forceful effort and a clumsy approach from Bangladesh gave India a definite upper hand over the proceedings.

Batting first after winning the toss was not a faulty decision. However, Shakib al Hasan could not have imagined the kind of effort his team-mates produced on a pitch that did not have anything remotely dangerous. The team-management should replay the innings of Mahmudullah to some of the top-order batsmen to make them understand how to bat in a Test match. The 23-year-old is a cool customer at the crease, assured of footwork and off-stump.

The all-rounder had displayed his talent in the first Test at Chittagong with a gritty fifty, and he was left to do the job again. He did not flinch away, tackling the Indian bowlers riding high confidence after reducing the hosts to 106 for six.

Mahmudullah steadied the boat first stitching together a small but sticky 28-run alliance with Shahdat Hossain. Their stand thwarted Indians’ ambitions to run through the tail, but even more frustration was awaiting India in the post-lunch session.

The lower-order batsman added 58 runs for a defiant ninth wicket, taking Bangla-desh past the 200-run mark. But Mahmudullah’s innings was not built entirely on the principles of defence, there were moments laced with conventional and improvisational brilliance.

A reverse sweep of Harbhajan Singh, a punch past point off Ishant Sharma and a powerful pull off Zaheer Khan revealed his class and he was also comfortable against Pragyan Ojha, who managed to procure good turn from the pitch, dancing down the track to cart him for a four. It was an outstanding effort from someone playing just his second Test.

But there were few takers for his approach among the frontline Bangladesh batsmen who seemed in a hurry to return to the pavilion. Imrul Kayes’ dismissal started the parade when the left-handed opener went for a pull off Ishant only to be adjudged caught behind, perhaps a tad unfortunate as bat did not seem anywhere near the ball.

Zaheer rearranged the timber of Tamim Iqbal and the left-arm paceman induced an edge from Junaid Siddique for Mahendra Singh Dhoni to complete a simple catch behind the stumps. Ishant too soon picked up his second wicket, taking Raqibul Hasan to Rahul Dravid at second slip to give the Bangalorean his 100th Test catch abroad.

From a Bangladesh point of view, the day’s biggest disappointment was Mohammad Ashraful’s approach. There was a lot of pressure on the middle-order batsman after a string of poor scores, but instead of concentrating on the job at hand the diminutive batsman embraced all-out aggression.

It was good to watch till it lasted, but as with any cameo his stay ended soon when Ojha beat him on the flight for Dhoni to effect a simple stumping to push the hosts to a perilous situation. Mahmdullah saved them from catastrophe, but the day firmly belonged to India.

Score Board

Iqbal b Zaheer    0
(12m, 8b)
Kayes c Dhoni b Ishant    0
(3m, 1b)
Siddique c Dhoni b Zaheer    7
(17m, 13b)
Ashraful st Dhoni b Ojha    39
(64m, 31b, 6x4)
Raqibul c Dravid b Ishant    4
(37m, 23b)
Shakib c Dhoni b Zaheer    34
(88m, 67b, 4x4)
Rahim lbw Ishant    30
(78m, 61b, 6x4)
Mahmudullah (not out)    96
(175m, 156b, 11x4)
Shahadat st Dhoni b Ojha    8
(37m, 18b,1x4)
Islam c Dravid b Ishant    9
(77m, 39b, 1x4)
Rubel b Harbhajan    4
(56m, 43b)

Extras (LB-2)    2
Total (all out, 73.5 overs)    233

Fall of wickets: 1-0 (Kayes), 2-4 (Iqbal), 3-13 (Siddique), 4-44 (Raqibul), 5-51 (Ashraful), 6-106 (Rahim), 7-127 (Shakib), 8-155 (Shahadat), 9-213 (Islam).
Bowling: Zaheer Khan 19-3-62-3, Ishant Sharma 15-3-66-4, Pragyan Ojha 16-1-49-2, Harbhajan Singh 18.5-3-48-1, Yuvraj Singh 2-0-6-0.

INDIA (I Innings)
Gambhir (batting)    26
(56m, 38b, 4x4)
Sehwag (batting)    41
(56m, 40b, 6x4)

Extras (B-1, NB-1)    2
Total (for no loss, 13 overs)    69

Bowling: Shafiul Islam 2-0-13-0, Shahadat Hossain 3-0-10-0, Rubel Hossain 4-0-20-0 (nb-1), Shakib al Hasan 3-0-15-0, Ashraful 1-0-10-0.

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