New Delhi: Teams tend to learn the hard way what it is to be up against the No. 1 Test side in the world. For India, playing Bangladesh at the moment seems nothing more than a warm-up game to prepare for the four Tests against Australia. The home team, on the back of yet another double century from Virat Kohli, inflicted further pain on Bangladesh.
Kohli’s fourth double century in Tests, a comeback ton for India’s No. 1 wicketkeeper batsman Wriddhiman Saha, and a brisk half-century from Ravindra Jadeja saw India pile on a mammoth 687/6 declared. Bangladesh started strong with Tamim Iqbal and Soumya Sarkar scoring at over 3.2 an over, before Umesh Yadav, India’s second bowling change, ended the visitors’ hopes of a safe return to the dressing room. Umesh drew Sarkar forward and the batsman offered a faint nick which was detected on referral.
With a wicket already down for 41, and the threat of Jadeja and R Ashwin looming large, India may have done enough to save them the formality of batting a second time in the match.
The star of the day remained Kohli. He converted his overnight 111 into his fourth score of 200, making it the fourth series in a row that he has crossed the landmark. Only the great Don Bradman and Rahul Dravid stand next to him with three doubles in three series. On the way to that double, the 28-year-old broke the record for most runs by a batsman in a home Test season, surpassing former team-mate Virender Sehwag’s mark of 1105 in 2004-05.
The post-lunch period on Day 2 was the most successful one for Bangladesh, as this was the first time in the match that India lost more than one wicket in a session. On 204, Kohli was out leg before, trying to cut a delivery that wasn’t quite there. And even though the replays showed that the ball might have missed the off stump, Kohli decided against the review, giving Taijul Islam his third wicket.
With Bangladesh having gotten the big fish, it was their best chance to make further inroads, but Saha and Ashwin bunted the ball in the gaps and went about swelling the Indian total. Ashwin used Taskin Ahmed’s reverse swing to pick up three boundaries in two overs before pushing away a ball that held its line and was taken at first slip.
Saha then took over the mantle of scoring runs once Ashwin departed. Making his comeback after missing the second half of the England Tests, Saha took Shakib Al Hasan and Mehedi Hasan for five fours and a six en route to his second century in Tests. Initially relying on deft flicks and a variety of cuts, Saha pressed on in the company of Jadeja adding 118 in 25.3 overs, with the allrounder notching up his third half-century in four innings. Saha was nearing his century, and with declaration lurking around the corner, Jadeja had his share of fun plundering the Bangladesh attack. He deposited Taijul into the second tier beyond long-on and followed it with a powerful slog-sweep over midwicket in the next. Making the most of a dropped catch on 40, Jadeja produced his fifth fifty in Tests.
That India strengthened their foothold in the morning session was majorly because of the 222-run partnership between Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane, their third 200-plus stand for the fourth wicket. Rahane might be gutted to miss out on what could have been a 9th Test century, or even more to justify his selection back in the team from a personal standpoint. But even a wicket going down wasn’t enough to change the fact that India remained the side on top. Five Bangladesh bowlers conceded 100 runs or more.
Taskin’s morning spell of five overs for 38 runs marked the beginning of a prolonged assault on the already low-spirited Bangladesh bowlers. The visitors continued to bowl outside offside, and making the most of it was a marauding Kohli, who took Taskin to the task. An average two boundaries kept flowing per over as India raced past 400 in just eight overs of the morning session.
Kohli took the majority of the strike, allowing Rahane to settle down at the other, though it didn’t come without him offering a chance to Sabbir Rahman. He came running in from the deep-point boundary but failed to cling on. And that was that. Rahane swatted Shakib towards the mid-wicket fence to bring up his 10th Test fifty. Once that was achieved, the batsman played some delightful shots on the off-side, crisp cover drives highlighting his innings. The ball that got the better of him stood up after pitching, and credit must be given to Mehedi, who put in a full-length dive to hold on after Rahane mistimed a booming drive.
Once again Bangladesh looked completely out of sorts. Mushfiqur Rahim looked clueless managing his bowling and placing fields. Bangladesh had their moment when Kohli was given out to Mehedi, but the replays showed the ball turning and missing the leg stump. More comedy of errors followed. Next over, Saha stepped down and missed a heave. It could have resulted in an easy stumping but Mushfiqur, already guilty of taking the worst DRS ever the day before, missed to remove the bails on the first attempt, allowing Saha to get back in.
Brief Score: Bangladesh 41/1 (Tamim Iqbal 24*; Umesh Yadav 1/2) trail India 687/6 decl (Virat Kohli 204, Murali Vijay 108 Wriddhiman Saha 106*; Taijul Islam 3/121) by 646 runs at stumps on Day 2.