It took its time coming, and at various points it looked like Bangladesh might pull off the unthinkable, but India’s winning run continued by one more Test in the end on the fifth afternoon of the one-off Test at Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium.
August 15, 2015. Galle. That was when India lost their way from an excellent position to concede the first Test to Sri Lanka. They went on to win the three-Test series and since that loss had gone 18 without a defeat — 14 of them victories — before this one. That W-D-L record now stands at 15-40 from 19 Tests. India are the No. 1 Test team in the world by right, after all.
Starting the day on 103 for 3 in an improbable chase of 459, the Bangladesh batsmen showed plenty of stomach for a scrap, putting in decent periods of resistance all the way. But it was always going to be a matter of time, a matter of seven good balls. Between them, RavindraJadeja,RAshwinandIshant Sharma bowled those to stop the visitors on Monday at 250 after 100.3 overs of bowling. The result: India victors by 208 runs. Good enough.
The day started with Jadeja doing exactly what one would expect of him against a left-hand batsman with some rough available outside the offstump. Hitting the scuff created by fivefastbowlersoverfourdays,Jadeja got it to spring on Shakib Al Hasan, whoreallydidn’thaveanoptionapart from fending it to Cheteshwar Pujara at forward short-leg.
Unfortunately for India, who didn’t have a legspin option and had carved their way through all the left-handers in the Bangladesh top order, the rough went out of the equation to a large extent after that. And there was still little in the pitch, even on the final day. As a result,Mahmudullah,startingtheday on nine, and Mushfiqur Rahim went on relatively unperturbed for 15 overs till a momentary lapse in sense led to Rahim’s downfall.
Virat Kohli was at his imaginative best — swapping his bowlers, pushing in the catchers, and even employing three fielders for the f lick and the fend between short square-leg and short midwicket at one stage for Umesh Yadav. Maybe he was switching it all around a bit too breathlessly, not giving his bowlers enough time to work with the fields, but he couldn’t be blamed for not trying. None of it worked for a while, though, Rahim even bringing out the big pull to send Ishant over the fine-leg boundary.
Mahmudullah,underpressureafter a series of low scores, chose to play the way he felt was best — leaving what he could, defending what he needed to, and sending the hit-mes to the fence. He wasn’t untroubled, but looked unfazed. Ditto with Rahim. Enter Ashwin, and one wonders what the plan on a still-unresponsive pitch was, because Rahim pretty much threw his wicket away. Third ball of the over, Rahim stepped out, connected well with the cover-drive and got four. Next ball, he rushed out again. Ashwin, not in a position to rely on turn, pulled back the length with a little dip, and Rahim could only mishit for Jadeja to take a simple catch at cover.
After that, it was always going to be a matter of time, even though Mahmudullah and Sabbir Rahman bedded down for the long haul, continuing to play their shots, but only when they were sure they could. Even though crease occupation was priority, Mahmudullah got to his first Test half-century since July 2015, when he made 67 against South Africa in the Chittagong Test, and Sabbir also got to 18 by lunch without much fuss, Bangladesh adding 99 runs in the session.Butcrucially,theyhadlostthetwo most experienced men in their ranks —ShakibandRahim—alongtheway.
WithAshwinandJadejahittingexcellent lines and length and Umesh and Ishant providing the occasional burst, though,theenddidn’tseemtoofaraway. It ended when Ashwin trapped Taskin Ahmed right in front of the stumps when play for the session was extended after the fall of the ninth wicket. The umpires weren’t sure and double-checked, Kohli asked for a review anyway, and Taskin was sent on his way, signalling the end of a most interesting Test match.
Team India celebrates Mushfiqur Rahim’s wicket —AP