King Kohli illuminates Pink Test

CRICKET

Virat Kohli drives one to the boundary en route to his 136 against Bangladesh on Saturday at the Eden Gardens. PTI

The Indian pacers threatened to provide finishing touches to the pink ball Test well within the second day, but the Bangladeshi batsmen managed to summon some fight to frustrate the hosts. From their current position, however, the tourists can only delay India’s series win.

Bangladesh, requiring 241 runs to make India bat again, ended Saturday’s proceedings at 152/6 with Mushfiqur Rahim (59 n.o., 70b, 10x4) leading their resistance. The tourists saved the big embarrassment of folding up inside two days, but they still need 89 runs to avoid a second innings defeat in a row. That task, though, seems a lot more difficult proposition what with Mohamudullah having retired hurt following a suspected hamstring injury on 39. Should he decide not to risk a bigger injury, India will need just three wickets to complete the formality.

After Virat Kohli had helped India, overnight 174/3, to 347/9 declared, it was once again Ishant Sharma who tormented the Bangladeshi batsmen. The timing of the declaration in the second session was perfect as it has proven to be the most difficult phase to bat. While five wickets fell on the first day, seven tumbled on Saturday, including five Indians.

Having claimed a fifer in the first innings on Friday, the pace spearhead removed four more batsmen (4/39) to leave the visitors on the brink. On a day when Mohammed Shami had a rare underwhelming second innings, it was Ishant ensured India remained on top of their game with two quick wickets before Bangladesh went into tea at 7/2.

Soon after resumption of final session, Ishant had skipper Mominul Haque for a pair while Umesh Yadav (2/40) dismissed Mohammad Mithun, who was taken to hospital after his dismissal following a nasty blow on his helmet by an Ishant bouncer. At 4/13 end appeared near but Mushfiqur, who successfully reviewed two lbw verdicts against him, and Mahmudullah ensured Bangladesh wouldn’t go down without a fight.

The opening session of the day was lit up by Kohli but Rahane was no less impressive till he lasted. With the contest between bat and ball virtually non-existent, it was left to the captain & vice-captain duo to keep the large gathering entertained. Kohli, overnight 59, continued from where he had left as did Rahane who had raced to 22-ball-23 the previous day. The right-handed pair maintained the same tempo with no little help from the visiting bowlers who continued to err in their lines.

Kohli’s driving continued to be as imperious while he also pulled out his twirls to the midwicket with typical elan. Not to be left behind, Rahane essayed his trade-mark punches through the off-side and drives down the ground. Rahane brought up his 22nd Test fifty off 65 balls (7x4) but got out soon against the run of play to Taijul Islam, the only bowler who looked like taking a wicket. The Mumbaikar’s cut off the left-arm spinner, a concussion sub to Nayeem Hasan, was pouched at backward point by Ebadat Hossain, ending the 99-run (134b) stand for the fourth wicket.

Rahane’s departure did little to change Kohli’s approach. If anything, he became even more belligerent which was exemplified by his four consecutive fours off Abu Jayed. Just before clobbering Jayed, Kohli had completed his 27th Test hundred with a flicked two off Taijul, making him the first Indian to score a hundred in a D/N Test. This was his 70th international ton to go with his 43 ODI hundreds. This is the third highest tally in the world and the one that equalled Ricky Ponting’s record.

India took lunch at 289/4, having added 115 runs for the loss of Rahane. The middle session, however, saw a dramatic turn of events coinciding with the twilight phase. India lost five wickets for 58 runs but by then they had a lead of 241 runs. With more than a session’s play left in the day, Kohli declared the innings in the hope of finishing the match early and Bangladesh almost obliged.

 

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