Dravid, Tendulkar turn on the style

Cricket: Second Test: Awesome twosome in record 17th century stand as India open up 226-run advantage

Dravid, Tendulkar turn on the style

During their illustrious careers, Dravid and Tendulkar have survived intense scrutiny from some of the best fast bowlers, ducking under bouncers and taking occasional blows.
Bangladesh quicks might not be in the same league as those past greats, but the duo still had to rely on their combined experience of 34 years on Monday to defuse a potentially dangerous situation.

India’s second day score of 459 for five, an overall lead of 226 runs, was the result of the perseverance and combative instincts of Dravid, who notched up his 29th Test hundred, and Tendulkar, who swelled the number of his hundreds to 45, as India blocked all escape routes for Bangladesh.

Resuming from 69 for no loss, India went off the blocks quickly with Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir amassing runs at a fast clip. But the home side pace bowlers had a definite plan -- rattle the Indians with short-pitched stuff. Sehwag was the first to go, edging a rising delivery from Shahadat Hossain to Mushfiqur Rahim after stitching together a 103-run alliance with Gambhir.

The left-hander looked poised to get his sixth Test hundred in a row, a feat that would have placed him alongside Sir Don Bradman. But the Australian great will remain alone at the top as Gambhir while attempting to fend away a well-directed bouncer from Shafiul Islam looped it to Rahim behind the stumps. So, the task of taking India forward was left to two veterans, and how wonderfully they responded to the task. But perils were galore for them; Bangladeshi bowlers were cock-a-hoop after getting the Indian openers and the pitch was dangerously double-natured, making it tough to gauge the bounce.

But haven’t they survived these situations before? There were no hurried measures from the duo, only just enough movement to avoid the bouncers. However, both of them had strong favours from fortune.

A straight drive from Gambhir off Shafiul rattled the timber when Dravid was on nine and the Bangladesh team went up in appeal, but the replays could not conclusively decide whether the ball grazed the bowler’s fingers. Dravid’s stay in the middle got another extension on 28 when Junaid Siddique grabbed a fine tumbling catch off Rubel Hossain at third slip, but the hosts’ joy did not last long as umpire Billy Bowden had already signalled no-ball.

A little smile spread across Tendulkar’s face watching Raqibul Hossain grassing a simple chance offered on 27 at gully off Rubel, and the maestro punished the home side for that error with a fluent innings in the company of Dravid.

But they had to survive a period when Bangladeshi bowlers constantly targeted them with short-pitched stuff with fielders positioned at crucial places – gully, short extra cover and slips. But after that rocky phase, runs came at a brisk pace. Tendulkar unfurled his usual mix of convention and cheekiness while Dravid, who completed his hundred with a beautiful inside-out cover drive off Shakib al Hasan, displayed his elegance rooted in orthodoxy. The third-wicket alliance never seemed in trouble after that initial rocky phase, milking 222 runs.

The partnership gifted its two authors a rare record as it was the 17th time the Tendulkar-Dravid combine made 100 or more runs. They pushed behind the Desmond Haynes-Gordon Greenidge and Ricky Ponting-Matthew Hayden pairs.

However, that a short ball ended the partnership came as a bit of an irony. Dravid could not duck in time and Shahadat’s bouncer hit the Bangalorean on his ear-guard, forcing him to retire.

Tendulkar and a confident M Vijay extended India’s lead before the Mumbaikar returned to the pavilion, giving a tame catch to Imrul Kayes mid-wicket off Shakib. But by then, India had moved far away from Bangladesh.

Score Board

BANGLADESH (I Innings): 233 all out

INDIA (I Innings, O/n: 69/0):
Gambhir c Rahim b Islam    68
(141m, 83b, 9x4)
Sehwag c Rahim b Shahadat    56
(89m, 63b, 8x4)
Dravid (retd hurt)    111
(255m, 188b, 12x4)
Tendulkar c Kayes b Shakib    143
(257m, 182b, 13x4, 1x6)
Vijay c Mahmudullah b Shakib    30
(70m, 49b, 3x4)
Dhoni (batting)    22
(42m, 38b, 2x4)
Harbhajan c Rahim b Islam    13
(25m, 23b, 2x4)

Extras (B-1, LB-5, W-1, NB-9)    16
Total (for 5 wkts, 102.5 overs)    459

Fall of wickets: 1-103 (Sehwag), 2-146 (Gambhir), 3-421 (Tendulkar), 4-436 (Vijay), 5-459 (Harbhajan).

Bowling: Islam 17.5-1-70-2 (w-1), Shahadat 19-2-71-1 (nb-2), Rubel 23-0-106-0 (nb-7), Shakib 27-0-108-2, Ashraful 4-0-26-0, Mahmudullah 11-0-63-0, Siddique 1-0-9-0.

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