Game-changer: Pant’s valiant 93 quickly changed the course of India’s innings.
Even as the shadows began to lengthen at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium on Saturday, there was no result in sight except an Indian victory.
Of course, there was resistance from Bangladesh’s batsmen in their second innings, with Liton Das (73, 98b, 7×4) and Zakir Hasan (51, 135b, 4×5) putting up spirited performances to take the target to 145.
However, on a pitch that isn’t necessarily crumbling, chasing down a sub-150 score should have been straightforward. After all, India have lost only once before chasing a target this small – to the West Indies at Bridgetown in 1997, chasing 120 all out for 81.
frantic last hour
But that was until Bangladesh tried to tell a different story. In what was a frantic final hour, the home bowlers first skittled India for 29 for three and then added the prized scalp of Virat Kohli to restrict the visitors to 45 for four and the game tantalised.
Still needing 100, India have two non-specialist batsmen at the crease but with first innings heroes in Rishabh Pant and Shreyas Iyer yet to come. Sent in to bat at No.4 to trouble left-arm spinners Shakib Al Hasan and Taijul Islam, Southpaw Axar Patel remained unbeaten on 26 (54b, 3×4) with Jaydev Unadkat, who came at Kohli’s collapse Were.
The wrecker-in-chief was off-spinner Mehidy Hasan (8-3-12-3), who has made a habit of arriving fashionably late and gate-crashing the visiting side’s party. Each of the four top-order batsmen relied on their defense and got lost.
Captain KL Rahul was the first man back in the pavilion, caught by Shakib on his seventh down for 25 runs. , and was duly stumped by Nurul Hasan.
Kohli moved forward to defend on the off side, only to take an edge of the ball and take it down to short-leg where Mominul Haque trapped it to trigger wild celebrations. Kohli was not amused by some of the words spoken against captain Shakib. Whose farewell will be, it will be known on Sunday morning.
Earlier, when Bangladesh were 71 for four at lunch, still 16 runs in the raid, the contest was done and dusted. Zakir held one end, but got little support. But Liton’s quick partnerships with Nurul (46) and Taskin Ahmed (60) for the seventh and eighth wickets respectively ensured a decent total to bowl to.
India were also weak on the field, with the usually reliable Kohli missing three clear chances at first slip, two from Liton and one from Nurul. Yet, at the time, none was enough to bring about a sharp change in fortunes for Bangladesh. But by sunset, the hosts had flipped the script to leave India on shaky ground.