MUS­CAT DAILY Kohli, Ishant put In­dia on top

Muscat Daily - - SPORTS -

Kolkata, In­dia - The first day-night Test in In­dia threat­ens to be the short­est in the coun­try. Af­ter two days - 916 le­gal de­liv­er­ies - In­dia was just four, pos­si­bly three, wick­ets away from record­ing its long­est win­ning streak: seven.

The quick­est it has pre­vi­ously taken to achieve an out­right re­sult in In­dia is 1028 balls, against Afghanista­n in 2018.

With that record still up for grabs on day three at Eden Gar­dens, the match also seems des­tined to be the joint-lean­est for spin­ners in In­dia - just one wicket to them so far, match­ing the Golden Ju­bilee Test of 1981.

It is hard to judge if the con­di­tions were very skewed against the bats­men, be­cause Bangladesh did play quite a few tame shots to get out. Ishant Sharma looked nigh un­playable with his in­swing and the odd leg­cut­ter, end­ing the day one wicket short of only his se­cond ten­wicket match haul.

He hit Mo­ham­mad Mithun with a bouncer, and had that re­sulted in a con­cus­sion, Bangladesh would have had to get Mustafizur Rah­man in as a bat­ting-only sub­sti­tute.

Bangladesh still found it­self a player short with Mah­mudul­lah in­jur­ing his ham­string try­ing to com­plete a quick sin­gle.

And oh, by the way, Vi­rat Kohli scored his 27th Test cen­tury (136), his 20th as cap­tain, go­ing past Ricky Ponting and be­hind only Graeme Smith's 25. Speak­ing of cap­tains, a for­mer cap­tain,

In­dia's Ishant Sharma (left) cel­e­brates with team­mates af­ter pick­ing the wicket of Bangladesh's Shad­man Is­lam dur­ing the se­cond day of the se­cond Test at the Eden Gar­dens in Kolkata on Saturday

Mush­fiqur Rahim, made sure the match went into day three with a coun­ter­at­tack­ing fifty af­ter he him­self was hit on the head.

The day be­gan with In­dia 68 in the lead, seven wick­ets in hand and Kohli primed for yet an­other in­evitable-look­ing Test hun­dred. Like a mat­ter of rou­tine, Kohli eased his way to a cen­tury de­spite some turn for Tai­jul Is­lam, who had come in as a con­cus­sion sub­sti­tute for Nay­eem Hasan.

The prob­lem with Bangladesh was they were bowl­ing good balls but not good overs.

Kohli was alert enough to keep the good ones out, and take risk-free runs off the or­di­nary ones. Some of the driv

ing of course was gor­geous.

Ajinkya Ra­hane (51) was un­for­tu­nate enough to fall to the odd good ball de­spite hav­ing crossed fifty. Un­like Kohli, Ra­hane likes to stay back to spin and play a lot of hor­i­zon­tal-bat shots. The kind of de­liv­ery that would have beaten Kohli on the for­ward-de­fen­sive took a top edge on the cut. Not that it changed the flow of the game a lot. Nor did the move­ment with the se­cond new ball. All it did was has­ten the end of the In­dian in­nings - de­clared closed at nine down - to give Bangladesh a pos­si­ble 44 overs to sur­vive on the se­cond even­ing.

The way Ishant started, it did

n't look like Bangladesh would last the night. In his first over, he toyed with the out­side edge of Shad­man Is­lam, mov­ing closer and closer to the stumps and fi­nally trap­ping him lbw. Cap­tain Mominul Haque then grabbed a pair by man­ag­ing to some­how edge a half-vol­ley.

That brought to­gether bats­men with two of the five worst av­er­ages in Test cricket in the last three years: Mithun and Im­rul Kayes. Mithun soon suf­fered a sick­en­ing blow with an Ishant bouncer fol­low­ing him af­ter pitch­ing. He con­tin­ued bat­ting af­ter a con­cus­sion test but soon played a limp pull to give Umesh Ya­dav a wicket.

Ishant soon drew the seem­ingly over­due edge from Kayes to leave Bangladesh at 13 for four.

Dan­ger­ous games con­tin­ued as Rahim re­ceived a glanc­ing blow in the head from Ya­dav. With so many blows to the heads and dropped catches, ques­tions will be, and should be, asked if it had any­thing to do with the pink ball.

Rahim, though, waved his physio off, rais­ing ques­tions over con­cus­sion pro­to­cols in cricket. The way he con­tin­ued to bat it didn't seem he was suf­fer­ing from one, though. Mah­mudul­lah, too, bat­ted flu­ently de­spite strug­gles against the short ball. Both of them chose to at­tack, and they had plenty of op­por­tu­nity to do so with the ag­gres­sive fields in place.

When they took the in­nings into the 14th over, Mah­mudul­lah and Rahim had put to­gether Bangladesh's long­est part­ner­ship of the match. It didn't stop there. Bound­aries kept flow­ing.

Move­ment died out, In­dia's lengths be­came shorter, and the ball kept skid­ding across the dewy out­field.

Mah­mudul­lah, how­ever, had to re­tire hurt for 39 off 41. The ease with which the two bat­ted, though, begged the ques­tion: why weren't the side's two best bats­men bat­ting higher and tak­ing more re­spon­si­bil­ity, es­pe­cially in the ab­sence of Shakib al Hasan and Tamim Iqbal.

Now In­dia was forced to go to spin af­ter only one over of it in the first in­nings, that too to fa­cil­i­tate a change of ends. R Ash­win im­me­di­ately pro­duced a chance, but Ra­hane dropped an easy chance at slip, his fourth off the bowl­ing of Ash­win in this se­ries. Ishant came back to get rid of the re­prieved bats­man Me­hidy Hasan, and just be­fore stumps Ya­dav ended Tai­jul's re­sis­tance.

In­dia is still on its way to a com­fort­able win, but Rahim had man­aged to make it wait for an­other night.

(AFP)

Vi­rat Kohli

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