Zaheer strikes put India on top

Cricket: Second Test: Tamims ton lights up Bangla innings; hosts need 83 more to avoid innings defeat

Zaheer strikes put India on top



The day was meant to see India, despite the injury worries, starting their march to victory. But like an iconoclast, the 20-year-old was in no mood to care for the set patterns, playing a confident and arrogant innings to drive home a point – Bangladesh are no more in awe of their big brothers nor they will baulk easily in a tough situation.

When Imrul Kayes was dismissed – substitute Dinesh Kaarthick holding on to a tumbling catch off Zaheer Khan – a batting collapse was very much on the cards. But how marvelouslly Iqbal played; setting the foundation for Bangladesh’s 228 for three at close on the third day, still 83 runs behind, though Iqbal’s late dismissal drenched their enthusiasm a bit.

The left-handed opener came out to bat in tough circumstances. India, resuming at overnight 459 for five, had amassed a whopping 311-run lead after declaring their first innings at 544 for eight.

History was not in favour of Iqbal as his three previous innings in this series read 23, 31 and 0. But the southpaw has slightest concern for history, situation or Indian bowlers on the day, taking on each one of those adversaries with bravado exclusively marked for youth.

Iqbal was never in doubt how to approach the innings, and he gave a glimpse of his mindset when he essayed an on-the-up cover drive off Ishant Sharma. The timing and placement he displayed while playing that shot never deserted him on the day. That cover drive was just a trailer as a full-length, thrill-a-minute exhibition of talent followed. There were shots all around, pulls, drives and cuts flowed from his willow as Indians soon reduced to the role of hapless viewers.

However, it was not just an elegant innings as Iqbal displayed a lot of guts beneath that glossy surface. With Iqbal growing in confidence, the Indians tried to rattle his focus with a few words and gazes. Zaheer Khan stared at him on a few occasions, but Iqbal answered the left-arm pacer with a couple of lovely drives down the ground.

The shots were not just a statement of his skills, but they also revealed his mental fortitude under trying conditions. Agreed, the pitch eased out in the afternoon but batting more than 300 runs in arrears in the second innings needs a lot of resilience and Iqbal had loads of it as the home side kept hacking at the lead.

Ironically, his hundred, off just 101 balls and the fastest by a Bangladeshi in Tests, came in a rather cheeky way; an unconvincing pull off Zaheer that went to fine leg as Tamim erupted in a celebration that reminded many of Sourav Ganguly.

Junaid Siddique, who milked 200 runs with Iqbal for second wicket, too should be given credit for playing the role of a faithful side-kick. Sensing his partner’s touch, Siddique did not tried anything fanciful but concentrated on giving as much strike to Iqbal. With the strategy working well, Indians were soon reduced to a frustrated lot.
Earlier, skipper MS Dhoni made a well-paced 89 and with the tail-enders giving some good support, India went past the 500-run mark to secure a huge first-innings lead in a largely passive morning session.

The sight of an injured Yuvraj Singh sitting padded up offered the lone point of interest in the initial hours as there were expectations of him coming out to bat to help Dhoni complete his hundred.

But part-time leg-spinner Raqibul Hasan managed to jettison Dhoni, spoiling the chance to see a minor heroism. The day, however, offered a more daring tale.

SCORE BOARD
B’DESH (I Innings): 233 all out

INDIA (I Innings, O/n: 459/5):
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 st Rahim b Raqibul    89
(164m, 167b, 9x4, 2x6)
Harbhajan c Rahim b Islam    13
(25m, 23b, 2x4)
Zaheer c Shahadat b Islam    0
(16m, 10b)
Ishant c Rahim b Ashraful    13
(78m, 53b, 3x4)
Ojha (not out)    1

Extras (B-3, LB-6, W-1, NB-10)    20
Total (for 8 wkts decl, 133 overs)544

Fall of wickets: 1-103 (Sehwag), 2-146 (Gambhir), 3-421 (Tendulkar), 4-436 (Vijay), 5-459 (Harbhajan), 6-467 (Zaheer), 7-518 (Ishant), 8-544 (Dhoni).

Bowling: Islam 23-1-86-3 (w-1), Shahadat 22-2-91-1 (nb-2), Rubel 28-1-115-0 (nb-8), Shakib 34-3-118-2, Ashraful 9-0-38-1, Mahmudullah 15-0-78-0, Siddique 1-0-9-0, Raqibul 1-1-0-1.

BANGLADESH (II Innings):
Iqbal c Dhoni b Zaheer    151
(231m, 154b, 18x4, 3x6)
Kayes c (sub) Kaarthick b Zaheer    5
(21m, 15b, 1x4)
Siddique c Dhoni b Zaheer    55
(201m, 143b, 5x4)
Shahadat (batting)    2
(17m, 13b)
Ashraful (batting)    2
(8m, 5b)

Extras (B-7, LB-4, W-2)    13
Total (for 3 wkts, 60 overs)228

Fall of wickets: 1-19 (Kayes), 2-219 (Siddique), 3-222 (Iqbal).
Bowling: Zaheer 14-1-63-3 (w-1), Ishant 11-2-38-0, Harbhajan 17-3-59-0, Ojha 11-1-46-0, Sehwag 7-2-11-0 (w-1).

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