A cool breeze blowing across the ground in the morning comforted the players in otherwise hot and sunny conditions as Bangladesh elected to bat in the first Test against India at the Holkar Stadium in Indore yesterday. There was however no respite from the heat generated by a rampant Indian pace trio for the Bangladesh batsmen.
First up it was Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav who breathed fire on a lively pitch and young opener Shadman Islam and his experienced partner Imrul Kayes were up against it from the start. The seamers consistently hit the right areas and got it to swing late and there was excellent carry. It took 20 deliveries to get a run on the board, and they could get bat on ball on just four of the previous 19, with one of those being an edge off Shadman’s bat that dropped short of gully. Those watching at the ground witnessed the excitement induced by the pace bowling. Enthralling to watch, the oohs and aahs kept the stadium alive as several whizzed past the bat.
The nippy Yadav squared Kayes up and the left-hander’s technique seemed scrambled, his head not in line with the ball as he hung his bat at a delivery that caught him high on the bat for an easy catch. If this was the story of the Indian pacers, it was also the story of a batting debacle due to a lack of application on a pitch tailormade for Test cricket.
India has long been known as a spinners’ paradise but the wicket here appeared to be one from Australia’s Gabba or MCG. When the batman slashed hard, it would usually go over the slip cordon and to the boundary. The pace, the movement of the ball, all signaling how far India have come.
Shadman chased an Ishant delivery without any feet movement and was caught behind the wicket. Captain Mominul Haque applied himself well and left the deliveries well after coming in at number three. He was joined by Mohammad Mithun, who was struggling to move his feet. Mohammad Shami was introduced in the 11th over and he immediately troubled Mithun. The right-hander survived a review due to umpire’s call, unable to counter Shami’s inswinger with conviction before another late inswinger saw Shami get his man.
The flurry of dropped catches began from there and contributed to Bangladesh’s innings. Both mainstays Mominul and Musfiqur Rahim were dropped with their individual score on three. Ajinkya Rahane dropped two -- Mushfiqur, Mominul and Mahmudullah Riyad -- at slip while skipper Virat Kohli dropped Mushy early, also at slip.
Mominul began to apply himself, using soft hands to guide the ball through point and the gap between slips and gully to bring welcome boundaries. Mushfiqur got going after a scrappy start and the duo starred in a 68-run partnership after lunch to fish them out of dire trouble. Then Mominul, who had played well for his 37, failed to read Ashwin’s slider and left the delivery only to see his off stump disturbed. The Tigers’ downward spiral then resumed.
Mahmudullah took the extremely poor decision of stepping across his off stump, giving Ashwin full view of all three stumps, and missing an airy sweep to a regular delivery to be bowled.
Ishant and Shami were both getting late swing and the latter, coming from wide of the crease, shaped one in that broke through Mushfiqur’s defence and castled him. Mushfiqur was outfoxed by Shami’s inswinger and by the time he decided to play at the ball, it was too late. Mehedi Hasan Miraz followed him back to the pavilion next ball, before tea was called with Shami on a hattrick. Ishant, not to be left behind, got the edge of Liton Das’s bat first up after the break. Bangladesh had lost three in three deliveries. Shami missed his hattrick but cleaned up the tail, rattling Ebadot Hossain’s stumps after Taijul Islam had run himself out.
After the Indian pace show, It seemed that other than technical errors with the bat, the Tigers had also erred in picking just two pacers.