2nd Test, Day 2: Pant’s 93, Iyer’s 87 put India in advantageous position against Bangladesh (ld)

Rishabh Pant and Shreyas Iyer slammed counter-attacking fifties to put India in an advantageous position on day two of second Test against Bangladesh at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium, here on Friday.

It was a day where Bangladesh took out India’s top three in the first session and then took out Virat Kohli quickly in the second session to leave them at 94/4. That’s when Pant and Iyer joined forces for an important 159-run stand for the fifth wicket, which made the difference for India in taking a sizable 87-run lead.

Though the duo fell short of their respective centuries, as Pant made 93 off 104 balls and Iyer scored 87 off 105 balls, the efforts from the left-right batting duo on a tough, deteriorating pitch, including making 140 runs in the second session at a run rate of 5.6.

Bangladesh openers Zakir Hasan and Najmul Hossain Shanto did well to negotiate six tricky overs before stumps. But they have a tough job in front of them on day three. Earlier, Pant used his wrists, bottom hand and feet superbly to take the attack to Bangladesh bowlers and put them under pressure while Iyer survived some close shaves early on, but brought out his superb shots against pacers and spinners.

In the middle session, Pant got a thick edge rolling past backward point for a four off Mehidy Hasan Miraz, while Iyer countered short balls from Taskin Ahmed – flat-batting over mid-on, followed by pull to bisect fine leg and deep backward square leg for successive boundaries.

Taskin still troubled Iyer with seam movement and variable bounce. An lbw appeal by him off Iyer was turned down and a ball later, the right-hander’s slash was dropped in a tough attempt by Mehidy, who hurt himself in the process.

Pant whipped easily off his wrists through mid-on and dabbing off backfoot through point for back-to-back fours off Khaled Ahmed. He welcomed Shakib Al Hasan by tucking through fine leg for four, before slog-sweeping Taijul over cow corner for six.

After Pant reached his fifty in 49 balls, Iyer survived a stumping chance off Shakib as Nurul Hasan made a mess behind. He rubbed salt on the wounds by cutting Shakib through backward point and then lofting over mid-off to fetch a brace of boundaries.

Pant danced down the pitch to smash a one-handed six off Shakib over long-on. He then went big on the loft against Mehidy, and had luck on his side when Mushfiqur Rahim palmed the ball over long-on for six.

When Taijul dropped short, Iyer was quick in rocking back and pulling through mid-wicket for four. Pant brought a century of the partnership by heaving Taijul over mid-wicket for four and ended the over by dancing down the pitch to smack a six over long-on.

The duo then took a six each off Mehidy through the leg-side, before Iyer, who got his second consecutive fifty of the series in 60 balls, rocked back to pull Shakib over deep mid-wicket for another maximum, and get the second session firmly in India’s favour.

Pant began the final session with a controlled pull through mid-wicket for four off Khaled Ahmed. Iyer got going by lofting Taskin over cover and driving Khaled through left of mid-on for a brace of boundaries.

When Mehidy pitched outside off stump, Iyer punched it right of mid-off for a dazzling four. But Pant fell seven runs short of his century when tried to cut a ball from Mehidy which was close to the body and got a nick behind to Nurul. It also meant Pant was dismissed in the 90s for the sixth time in Tests.

Axar Patel looked to up the scoring rate, but holed out to long-on off Shakib. Shreyas was next to depart for 87, when the ball sneaked past his bat on an attempt to sweep off Shakib and was rapped low on back pad in front of off stump, with India losing a review too.

Shakib reviewed right after the on-field umpire gave Ravichandran Ashwin not out on an lbw decision. But the batter came down the pitch over three metres, and the on-field verdict was unchanged. Three overs later, Shakib has his man by trapping Ashwin lbw after beating him on inside edge.

Umesh Yadav and Jaydev Unadkat hit four boundaries between themselves before the former’s miscued slog was pouched safely by slip off Taijul. Mohammad Siraj hit a boundary and was immediately stumped easily off Shakib to bring India’s innings to an end.

Earlier, Taijul, the experienced left-arm spinner, was in great control of line and length while taking out India’s top three in the morning session. He had taken out openers KL Rahul and Shubman Gill lbw in quick succession.

Taijul had his third wicket when Mominul Haque at forward short leg took a sharp catch of Cheteshwar Pujara, sending him back for 24. Post lunch, Bangladesh took out Kohli quickly, who nicked behind sans any footwork off Taskin. But Pant and Iyer revived the Indian innings with a stunning counter-attack to give India a healthy lead, putting Bangladesh on backfoot.

Brief Scores: Bangladesh 227 in 73.5 overs and 7/0 in six overs trail India 314 in 86.3 overs (Rishabh Pant 93, Shreyas Iyer 87, Taijul Islam 4/74, Shakib Al Hasan 4/79) by 80 runs

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