CHITTAGONG: Gautam Gambhir closed in on a rapid half-century as India raced to 122-1 in their second innings at stumps on the third day of the opening Test against Bangladesh on Tuesday.
The opener (47 not out) added 90 for the opening wicket with stand-in captain Virender Sehwag (45) after India had narrowly avoided conceding the lead to Bangladesh for the first time in six Tests.
Bangladesh were bowled out for 242 in their first innings shortly after tea in reply to India’s 243.
India got off to a strong start, with left-handed Gambhir and Sehwag dominating the Bangladeshi attack with attractive shots during their 17-over partnership.
Sehwag fell just three balls after hitting a straight six off left-arm spinner Shakib Al Hasan, caught by Raqibul Hasan at square-leg while attempting another big shot.
Nightwatchman Amit Mishra was unbeaten with a 21-ball 24 when play was called off due to bad light.
Bangladesh’s Mohammad Mahmudullah earlier hit an impressive 69 for his maiden half-century. He put on 108 for the seventh wicket with Mushfiqur Rahim (44) to raise his team’s hopes of gaining the lead.
Mahmudullah said Bangladesh were not out of the Test.
“India are only leading by 123 runs. If we get early wickets, we can get a positive result,” he said. “There is not as much turn in the wicket as it was on the first day. On this wicket, a target of 270-280 and even 300 can be chased.”
The hosts were tottering at 98-6 before being revived by Mahmudullah and Rahim, but three late wickets by Indian leg-spinner Mishra saw them concede the lead.
Bangladesh failed to cope with India’s pace in the morning, when they lost three wickets in the space of 30 runs, but Mahmudullah and Rahim denied the visitors success for more than two hours with their sensible knocks.
The duo applied themselves remarkably well, patiently waiting for loose deliveries. Mahmudullah played some handsome shots in his 108-ball knock before being caught behind off paceman Shanthakumaran Sreesanth.
Wicketkeeper Rahim had been batting confidently before he fell to a loose shot, caught by Sehwag at mid-wicket while attempting to hit Mishra against the turn. Rahim struck six fours in his 104-ball knock.
Mishra and left-arm paceman Zaheer Khan finished with three wickets each, while seamers Ishant Sharma and Sreesanth grabbed two apiece.
“It was good bowling effort,” said Zaheer. “Basically they were just playing shots, so it was important that we stick to our areas and be patient.
“Definitely the wicket improved as play went on. We are happy with the proceedings.”
Play was delayed for the third successive day due to dense fog which had restricted play to 63 of the stipulated 90 overs on the first day and just 24.5 overs on the second day.
The second and final Test will start in Dhaka on January 24.
Bangladesh won toss
India 1st innings 243 all out (Tendulkar 105, Sehwag 52; Shahadat 5-71, Shakib 5-62)
Bangladesh 1st innings
Tamim Iqbal b Zaheer 31
Imrul Kayes lbw b Zaheer 23
Shahriar Nafees c Laxman b Sharma 4
Mohammad Ashraful c Dravid b Sharma 2
Raqibul Hasan c Karthik b Sreesanth 17
*Shakib Al Hasan c Sehwag b Zaheer 17
†Mushfiqur Rahim c Sehwag b Mishra 44
Mahmudullah c Karthik b Sreesanth 69
Shahadat Hossain c Yuvraj b Mishra 11
Shafiul Islam c Yuvraj b Mishra 6
Rubel Hossain not out 0
Extras (b 4, lb 1, w 1, nb 12) 18
Total (all out; 65.2 overs) 242
Fall: 1-53, 2-58, 3-58, 4-68, 5-89, 6-98, 7-206, 8-228, 9-235, 10-242
Bowling: Zaheer 20-4-54-3 (1w); Sreesanth 11-1-55-2 (7nb); Sharma 13-3-47-2; Mishra 16.2-2-66-3 (5nb); Yuvraj 5-1-15-0
India 2nd innings
G Gambhir not out 47
*V Sehwag c Raqibul b Shakib 45
A Mishra not out 24
Extras (lb 5, nb 1) 6
Total (1 wicket; 22.2 overs) 122
To bat: R Dravid, S R Tendulkar, V V S Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, †K D Karthik, I Sharma, Z Khan, S Sreesanth
Bowling: Shafiul 6-0-35-0; Shahadat 5-0-13-0; Rubel 2-0-20-0 (1nb); Shakib 6.2-0-28-1; Mahmudullah 2-0-12-0; Ashraful 1-0-9-0
Test debut: Shafiul Islam (Bangladesh)
Umpires: B F Bowden (New Zealand) and M Erasmus (South Africa). TV umpire: Enamul Haque. Match referee: A J Pycroft (Zimbabwe)