Bangla fight but India on top

Bangla fight but India on top
Favourites India continued to call the shots, putting themselves well on course for victory in the one-off Test against Bangladesh here on Sunday.

After being kept on the field for the entire third day by a resolute Bangladesh, a rejuvenated India got the first part of the job done just before lunch, dismissing the tourists for 388 in their first innings at the near-capacity Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium.

India then predictably went berserk in their second innings, hammering 159/4 in 29 overs in one session before declaring at the stroke of tea to leave Bangladesh with the onerous task of surviving a minimum of 125 overs or chase down 459 for an improbable victory.

Bangladesh’s first target though was to tide through the testing 35 overs left in the day without much wreckage while India hoped to land as many blows as possible to lighten their workload on the fifth and final day on a track that's still good for batting. Caught cold by an attacked-minded Shakib al Hasan and the smooth Mushfiqur Rahim in the first innings, India’s premier spinner R Ashwin finally came to the party in style, bagging 2/34, while Ravindra Jadeja took 1/27, as the hosts had the battling Tigers on 103/3 at stumps on the fourth day.

Like at the beginning of the day when Bhuvneshwar Kumar removed overnight batsman Mehedi Hasan in just the fourth ball of the day to set a perfect tempo, India got an early breakthrough in Bangladesh’s second innings as well.

Ashwin, opening the attack and looking to make amends following an average first innings showing by his own lofty standards, got Tamim Iqbal to prod forward and the ball took an inside edge onto to his pads before ballooning to Virat Kohli at slip. Dangerous when a prey is captured at the start of the hunt, Ashwin then caused all sorts of problems for Bangladesh with his loop, turn and guile.

With pacers Bhuvneshwar, Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav also maintaining the pressure and intensity at the other end, Bangladesh found the going extremely suffocating. However, Soumya Sarkar, who was struck flush on his helmet, and Mominul Haque soldiered on bravely to keep the Indian attack at bay.

India knew they needed to produce a special ball to disturb the Sarkar-Mominul partnership, happy to present a straight bat to everything thrown at them and even having the courage to take a few knocks on their bodies.

The combination of Jadeja and Ajinkya Rahane did the trick for India in the last ball of the 22nd over. Realising that Sarkar was just going to defend him, Jadeja got one to pitch and turn and the ball got the edge of a bemused Sarkar (42, 66b, 7x4) while Rahane completed an outstanding catch to his right.

Three overs later, Ashwin, who earlier in the day became the fastest to reach 250 wickets in just his 45th Test, removed the other set batsman Mominul (27, 63b, 3x4) with another beauty. He induced an edge of the right-hander, this time Rahane getting a simple catch.

Indians then intensified their attack but seasoned all-rounder Shakib and veteran Mahmudullah hung on desperately. Shakib, despite knowing a lot hinged on his shoulders, was a bit audacious with his approach but Mahmudullah buckled down. They batted for 65 balls but aware the job of saving the game is far from over.

Earlier in the day, skipper Mushfiqur scored a fighting 127 (262b, 16x4, 2x6) but it was just enough to narrow India’s lead to 299 runs. India, who resumed batting afterwards to give some recovery time for their bowlers, exploded from the word go. Although they lost openers K L Rahul and Murali Vijay cheaply, Cheteshwar Pujara (54 n.o., 58b, 6x4, 1x6), Virat Kohli (38, 40b, 2x4, 1x6) and Rahane (28, 35b, 2x4, 1x6) maintained a high speed.

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