Given how things were unfolding in the first couple of sessions at the Eden Gardens on Saturday, it is pretty incredible that the first ever day-night Test match in India will see action on the third day (unlikely, though it is, to extend into the third night) as Bangladesh managed to delay the inevitable.
Virat Kohli’s first tryst with the pink ball was a must-watch lesson for youngsters learning the game while, later in the day, Ishant Sharma and Co continue to torment Bangladesh batsmen to push India towards victory
Bangladesh, who lasted just 30.3 overs in he first innings, were in serious danger of folding before close of play on Saturday. But after being reduced to 13/4, the visitors ended the second day at 152/6, courtesy a combative half-century from Mushfiqur Rahim (59*) and Mahmudullah, who retired hurt after scoring 39.
Here are the talking points from the action on day two:
Ajinkya Rahane’s slips
First up, let’s get to, arguably, one of the few blemishes for India in this series.
It is quite incredible that the man who holds the record for most catches by a fielder in a Test match has looked a shadow of himself in the last two Test matches. After three dropped catches in the opening Test in Indore (at least two of them sitters by his very high standards), Rahane put down another simple catch on day two at Eden Gardens. And it was Ashwin Ravichandran at the receiving end once again. A combo that was reminded many of the Dravid-Kumble era not too long ago, has struggled to produce a wicket this series, thanks to Rahane’s slip-ups at slip.
The Indian vice-captain, as he often does, chose to see the positive side of it at the end of day;s play: he said it was one’s attitude after a dropped catch that mattered. And sure enough, he immediately apologised to Ashwin after putting Mahmudullah down, had a smile on his face when he finished the day with a catch at gully to dismiss Taijul Islam, and had the self-awareness to poke fun at his mishaps as the Indian team celebrated that wicket.
While Rahane does have a point when he said these things happen in cricket, India (and especially) Ashwin, would hope this is just a passing phase for him. Sure, his dropped catches have not proved costly yet so far in this series for India but on another day, another batsman from another team could make him rue these misses.
Mushfiqur Rahim’s grit
This is not the first place where you would read the line: Bangladesh team physio has spent more time in the middle at Eden Gardens than most of their batsmen. While athletes getting treatment for injuries during a match is not rare by any means, the number of times Bangladeshi batsmen needed attention while facing this brutal Indian pace attack was quite telling.
One of those instances came Mushfiqur Rahim ducked to a bouncer from Ishant Sharma and the ball struck the back-side of the helmet and flew to fine leg. Rahim took a second to find his bearings, completed a single and stood like he would always do at the non-striker’s. Ashwin and others tried to check on him, but Rahim brushed them away. It was not quite Ricky Ponting-esque but Rahim was doing a mellow impression of not wanting to show any weakness.
Of course, with the concussion protocols in place, there was no way he would have been allowed to continue without a check from the physio (rightly so) but in that moment of defiance (misplaced as it might be), Rahim showed that he was up for a fight. He was going to do everything in his power to make sure India will return to bowl on Sunday.
Apart from the blow he took and a couple of streaky shots, Rahim’s innings was no less classy than Kohli’s. The cover drives and punches behind point were imperious from the bats of both batsmen. The situations were vastly different but the two best batsmen of their respective sides showed why they are so.
Virat Kohli’s masterclass
Right, what can one say about Kohli’s hunger for runs that has not been already said?
We could talk about how this knock at Eden Gardens was a masterclass in driving the ball off the front-foot, through the cover region and straight down the ground.
We could talk about how, when he was on 95, Kohli played a couple of tentative shots against Ebadot Hossain to momentarily betray a sense of nervousness but then brought out one of those aforementioned glorious cover drives to move on to 99.
We could talk about how he did not just run a single from 99 to 100 and started celebrating, but instead scampered back for the second run to keep strike and one more run to his tally.
We could talk about the four boundaries he hit on the trot against Abu Jayed after reaching the century that brought him level with Ponting’s count of 41 international centuries as captain, but in half the number of innings taken by the Australian.
But let us just take a moment to appreciate the image below:
We saw some sensational shots played by Kohli in his knock of 136. But this moment of perfection is, in this writer’s opinion, was just as good if not better: a perfect front-foot defence after reaching his century as if to say “I am Captain Kohli and I can do this all day.”