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India, the no.1 Test Side in the World is eight wickets short of yet another good victory. The Champion side having got themselves out of jail are now on the winning path with only the weather likely to cause them the hurdles. Hosts Bangladesh were set a daunting target of 415 and in their chase are already two down in just the 18 overs of batting.
Gautam Gambhir cracked his 5th consecutive century in as many Tests today to lead India to the massive lead. Night watchman Amit Mishra grabbed the batting opportunity with both hands to notch up his maiden Test fifty. Mishra ended his batting adventures immediately after reaching his 50 (from 70 balls with 6 fours). It was a match-setting partnership of 98 with Gambhir from the leggie.
Gambhir brought up his 9th Test hundred in style in just the 44th over by dancing down the track and hoisting left arm spinner Shakib Al Hasan for a majestic six over long on. The left hander was caught at thirdman upper cutting a bouncer to thirdman but only after finishing his job with his 116 (from 129 balls with 10 fours and a six). Debutant Shafiul Islam was the bowler taking his maiden Test wicket.
India lost just one more wicket before lunch that of Rahul Dravid (24)through a casual running into the crease with the bat in the air. The morning session saw India move to a lead of 260 with six wickets in hand. Sachin Tendulkar having got a crucial century in the first innings was bound to fail this time around and it just didn’t matter at all for his team. For the record, the Master got lbw for 16 to an impressive Rubel Hossain who pinned him back into the crease with a skiddy inswinger.
Yuvraj Singh, the next man in scored 25 before failing to keep his drive on the up along the ground. Dinesh Karthik came in and played positively to make 27 and that was followed up by Zaheer Khan’s 20 from 17 balls. Laxman kept one end secured as India cruised past the 400-run lead. The declaration came about 30 minutes after Tea with Sehwag smartly declaring after the loss of 8 wickets. It meant that his words of Bangladesh not being good enough to take 20 Indian wickets was intact.
VVS Laxman boosted his average with an unbeaten 69 from 89 balls with 5 fours. The wristy batsman struggled to get his timing right which indicated that the pitch was no cakewalk for free strokeplay. India got 413 on the board in just 87 overs. Bangladesh having about an hour and a half of batting before stumps started off really bad. Zaheer Khan bowled a wonderful ball though to earn the wicket of Imrul Kayes. He struck in the 3rd over itself by drawing the left hander forward and with the ball perfectly landing on the seam, he got it to bounce awkwardly and take the shoulder of the blade to the keeper.
Zaheer Khan was later helped by some poor batting from Shahriar Nafees but VVS Laxman at second slip let the bowler down twice! Nafees was put down by Laxman off the same bowler and the second chance had split the webbing to take him off the field. Incidentally it was the third slip catch put down by Laxman in this match off Zaheer Khan’s bowling.
The dropped chances from VVS didn’t matter as Bangladesh was still not a professional Test side as proved by their amateurish batting display. In the 14th over itself, Ishant got Zaheer’s wicket by squaring up Shahriar Nafees on the backfoot to produce a thick edge and for the second time in this match, India Skipper Virender Sehwag plucked a superb catch at gully.
By the time, the inevitable abruption from bad light came, Bangladesh was at 67 for 2 in 18 overs. Tamim Iqbal has looked solid for his 23 but has shown signs of losing his concentratrion and playing needless shots. Ashraful is the other ‘not out’ batsman still early at the crease. India should fancy its chances of taking the remaining 8 wickets in the next 50 overs if weather permits that is.