Zeecric Bureau/Pratik Dogra
Chittagong: Not for the first time in his glorious two decade long career, Sachin Tendulkar was entrusted with the task of reviving India’s fortunes after a no-show from other batsmen. And again, not for the first time, he duly obliged.
But having wrestled mightiest of opponents, like Australia, South Africa, Pakistan, and even England, in adverse of circumstances, and often in their own den, not even in his wildest dreams would he have imagined that he would be asked to answer his nation’s call against- hold your breaths- Bangladesh!
Dismissed as ‘ordinary opponents’ by stand-in skipper Virender Sehwag only a day before, Bangladesh hit back in the best possible manner, delivering a stirring performance in the field to reduce their famed opponents to 213/8 at stumps on first day of first Test here on Sunday.
Skipper Shakib Al Hasan, who had made no secret of his displeasure of Sehwag’s unflattering comments on Saturday, led from the front, snaring 4 wickets, as Indian batsmen, renowned for their dominance of spin bowling, struggled to read the spirited 22 year old’s cleverly mixed tweakers. He ended up with figures of 4/52 from 26 overs, with wickets of Sehwag himself, VVS Laxman, Yuvraj Singh and later Zaheer Khan adorning his kitty.
Batsmen look for partnerships to build their innings, and so do the bowlers.
Shakib found a perfect foil in Shahadat Hossain, who himself picked up 4 wickets, to knock the stuffing out of the Indian batting.
With fielders playing their part to the hilt, it was left to Tendulkar, unbeaten on 76 at stumps, who not only avoided a major embarrassment, but also gave India a flicker of hope when bad light brought about a halt to the proceedings.
Only 63 of the possible 90 overs were possible on the day.
Earlier, dense fog had pushed the start of the match by one and a half hours after Shakib won the toss and elected to bowl first.
Sehwag, who had created a furor in the local media yesterday, was captaining India after regular captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni pulled out owing to a back spasm.
Harbhajan Singh was also ruled out due to a stiff neck.
Dinesh Karthik replaced Dhoni behind the stumps while Amit Mishra was the sole spinner in Indian team’s ranks.
Indian openers started on a positive note, taking India to 63 without loss from 13 overs that were possible before lunch.
India had suffered a triple jolt soon after lunch, when stand-in skipper Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, and Rahul Dravid fell in quick succession, as Bangladesh bowlers began making optimum use of morning’s moist conditions.
First to depart was Sehwag, who fell almost immediately after compiling his half-century. Having raced away to 52 runs off just 50 balls, the Delhi Dasher pushed a slightly short ball off his opposite number, Shakib, in the air to Tamim Iqbal at short extra cover, ironically stationed there for this very shot.
He hit 9 fours in his entertaining stay.
In the very next over, Shahadat induced a snick of world’s number one ranked Test batsman – Gambhir, to neutralize the solid start openers had provided before lunch.
Gambhir made 23 runs, hitting 3 fours in his brief knock.
Rahul Dravid was cleaned up by Shahadat again for just 4 runs as India slumped from 79/0 to 85/3 in space of just 23 balls.
VVS Laxman and Sachin Tendulkar then tried to stem the rod, but the score soon became 107/4 when former was deceived by flight, and looking to flick Shakib, lost balance, to be stumped by Mushfiqur Rahim.
He managed a scratchy 7 runs.
The worse was yet to follow.
Having hit a six in the previous over, Yuvraj Singh failed to get hold off a full toss from Shakib, mis-timing a loft straight to Rubel Hossain at mid-on.
The blow could not have come at a worse time for India as Yuvraj and Sachin Tendulkar were just beginning to get a hang of the conditions, and looked comfortable in the middle.
They had put on 42 runs in 62 balls, off which Yuvraj contributed 12 runs.
Karthik failed to even open his account, as Shahadat picked up his third wicket to leave India tottering at 150/6.
Resuming from 160/6 after tea, India lost Mishra (14 runs) to Shahadat again, while Zaheer (11 runs) fell to the guile of Shakib.
India would be looking to Ishant Sharma to lend as much support a s possible to Tendulkar, and then hope that their bowlers can match their Bangladeshi counterparts’ efforts as they look to wriggle their way out of the woods.
India: Virender Sehwag*, Rahul Dravid, Gautam Gambhir, Dinesh Karthik†, Zaheer Khan, VVS Laxman, Amit Mishra, Ishant Sharma, S Sreesanth, Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh
Bangladesh: Shahriar Nafees, Imrul Kayes, Tamim Iqbal, Mohammad Ashraful, Shakib Al Hasan*, Raqibul Hasan, Mahmudullah, Mushfiqur Rahim†, Shafiul Islam, Shahadat Hossain, Rubel Hossain