Bangladesh’s left-handed opener Zakir Hasan became the fourth batter from his country to score a century on Test debut. But India edged closer to victory at the end of day four in the first Test at Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium, making further inroads to leave Bangladesh at 272/6 at stumps.
India now need to take out four wickets on day five while Bangladesh need 241 runs for a miraculous victory. It was a day where the visitors’ were made to work hard with the ball, starting from a wickless first session.
From there, they bounced back by taking out three wickets each in the next two sessions, two of which were taken out by Axar Patel with the new ball in the 88th over. Resuming from 42/0, Zakir batted the entire first session alongside Najmul Hossain Shanto (67) as the duo brought up Bangladesh’s first hundred-run opening stand against India in Tests.
On a pitch which seemed to have slowed down greatly, India did find some turn and bounce. But Shanto and Zakir showed tremendous application, resolve and patience to frustrate the Indian bowling attack and rendered them ineffective.
Shanto began by driving and flicking Mohammed Siraj for back-to-back fours, also bringing the fifty of the opening partnership. Siraj got to beat Shanto on a few occasions, while Ravichandran Ashwin found the inside-edge of the left-handed batters. But a breakthrough still eluded India as Zakir brought the shot of the session, going inside-out over cover off Ashwin.
It prompted the off-spinner to change his plan as he switched to bowling from over the wicket and found a turn immediately to beat the outer edge of Shanto. After reaching his fifty, Shanto brought the century of the partnership with a fierce pull off Siraj.
Zakir, on the other hand, brought out a sweep against Kuldeep Yadav, before dancing down the pitch and whipping Axar through mid-wicket, to reach his fifty. He would again sweep off Kuldeep, before surviving an lbw appeal off Axar as Bangladesh got the session in their favour.
Post lunch, India finally ended the 124-opening partnership when Shanto poked outside off-stump against Umesh. But Virat Kohli fumbled at slip and Rishabh Pant showed quick presence of mind to take the catch on rebound at second attempt.
Three overs later, Axar got his first wicket when he got to spin past the outer edge of Yasir Ali and rattle the stumps. The visitors’ could have got another wicket when Umesh went past Litton Das’ outside edge, which was heard by none. Later, UltraEdge showed there was a spike.
Axar continued to create problems by getting sharp turn and bounce to beat Das on the outside edge even as Zakir pulled, steered and lofted beautifully to stand tall for Bangladesh. Das was fantastic in pulling Siraj off a no-ball and brought out the sweep against Ashwin.
He had a huge reprieve on an lbw decision off Kuldeep when DRS showed that impact was umpire’s call and on-field decision of not out stayed. But two overs before tea, Das tried to play the flick on a tossed up delivery from Kuldeep, who had been troubling him. But he got a leading edge and gave a simple catch to Umesh at mid-on, throwing his wicket away.
The final session began with Ashwin beating Mushfiqur Rahim on the outside edge, followed by the right-hander stepping out to flick the off-spinner through mid-wicket. Zakir swept off Ashwin, and then went for a lofted drive over mid-off against Kuldeep. He got his century when he swept Ashwin past short fine and soaked in the applause from the dugout and sparse crowd.
His beautifully compiled innings ended in the next over when he attempted to defend off Ashwin. But the ball took the inside edge and ballooned off the pad towards first slip, where Kohli dived forward to complete a good low catch.
Shakib Al Hasan made his intentions clear against Axar by smashing him for a four and a six over mid-wicket fence. Rahim had an escape on 22 when Pant dropped a one-handed diving catch off Umesh. But he fell in the next over when Axar got one to straighten past outside edge and uproot off-stump.
Axar had another wicket in the same over, drawing Nurul Hasan out of the crease, with Pant completing a quick stumping as the batter missed the delivery. As Bangladesh began to stare down the barrel, Shakib cut through off-side against Axar, while the all-rounder got two fours off Kuldeep.
It was Shakib’s turn to be aggressive against Kuldeep – lofting him inside-out over extra cover for four, followed by a slog-sweep over mid-wicket for six. The duo would hang around for an unbeaten 34-run stand till stumps arrived.
Brief Scores: India 404 in 133.5 overs and 258/2 declared in 61.4 overs lead Bangladesh 150 in 55.5 overs and 272/6 in 102 overs (Zakir Hasan 100, Najmul Hossain Shanto 67, Axar Patel 3/50, Umesh Yadav 1/22) by 241 runs