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India has atlast gained control of the first Test at Chittagong with Bangladesh falling flat in consolidating its advantageous position. The visitors have smartly moved to a second innings lead of 123 with 9 wickets in hand. This was after India had grabbed the moral victory with a 1-run lead bowling out Bangladesh for 242.
It was a good day for cricket, though there was the customary delay at the start and the predictable bad light stoppage towards the end of play. The match has moved forward in the 70 odd overs that were possible on Day 3. There was an early breakthrough for India when Ashraful got squared up on the backfoot by Ishant Sharma to get caught at first slip by Dravid. The shaky Ashraful failed to capitalize on the life provided by a dropped catch from Laxman off Zaheer prior to that.
After Ashraful’s exit, in came the Bangladeshi Skipper Shakib Al Hasan who confidently drove the ball on the up and slashed the pacers with lots of power. The young Captain threatened to run away with the game with his blistering shots but his counterpart Virender Sehwag spoilt all the fun by pulling off an unbelievable catch at gully. It was in the 27th over that Shakib Al Hasan (17 from 20 balls with 4 fours) slashed at one on the up off Zaheer and the ball appeared to sail over gully but for Sehwag who jumped up perfectly to hold onto the fast flying ball. Sehwag made that catch look incredibly easy.
In the 31st over, it was the turn of Sreesanth to show that he was no less to Zaheer and Ishant when he forced Raqibul Hasan to fend a rising delivery to Dinesh Karthik to reduce Bangladesh to a disastrous 98 for 6. Just when India was all set to wrap things up, came a huge resiststance from Mushfiqur Rahim along with Mahmudullah. Sreesanth was the culprit initially losing his rhythm and bowling plenty of noballs and soon Bangladesh managed to halt India’s charge.
The pair of Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah got well settled on what was becoming an easier wicket to bat on with the sun breaking through. It was nearly after 30 overs that India got their next wicket when Mushfiqur Rahim (44 from 104 balls with 6 fours) attempted an agricultural slog sweep against a wide leg break to top edge it to mid wicket. It was a desperate breakthrough for the tourists as the 7th wicket stand took Bangladesh to 206 which was 36 runs away from India’s 242. By Tea, Amit Mishra gave another break removing the careless Shahadat Hossain slicing a wide leg break to point. Bangladesh at Tea was back in the dumps at 228 for 8.
Sreesanth and Mishra finished things off after the Tea break as India held onto a 1-run lead! Mahmudullah who cracked 69 with 11 fours (from 108 balls) departed trying to force a Sreesanth delivery through gully but could only edge it to the keeper. Mishra gave the last blow by getting the cheap wicket of Shafiul Islam with the no.10 slogging and miscuing a flighted delivery. All the four main bowlers got into the wickets for India though Zaheer and Ishant were the stand out performers.
With India perhaps wiping out any chances of an upset defeat, Sehwag and Gambhir batted in a determined manner to set things up for a victory. The Bangladeshi pace trio bowled as quick as they could but often bowled off target to leak runs. In the 17th over, Virender Sehwag (45 from 58 balls with 4 fours and a six) perished played a rank bad shot just like Mushfiqur Rahim, slog sweeping against the turn and getting a top edge. Shakib Al Hasan was the wicket taker but India had already put on 90 on the board.
In a surprise move, India sent in Amit Mishra as the night watchman though there was till an hour’s play left. The move was a right one as light faded away quickly and in the few overs bowled before the close, Amit Mishra cracked 5 fours to race away to 24 from 21. The night watchman willingly danced down the track to hoist off spinner Mahmudullah to the long on boundary. Gambhir remained unbeaten on 47 (from 56 balls with 4 fours). It was not a smooth innings at all, often losing concentration and playing some bad shots but end of the day, Gambhir survived to keep India on the top with a 123-run lead.