India consolidate in brief passage of play
After hours of waiting, in which more than 70 overs and almost five hours of play was lost, the game finally got under way at half past four in the afternoon on the second day. Sourav Ganguly completed his century and was dismissed immediately, on an even 100, and Sachin Tendulkar brought up his hundred soon after. The aim was to play 23 overs, but that was never likely given the speed at which light deteriorates late in the day in the East, and in the end 20 overs were sent down, in which India added 89 runs for the loss of 3 wickets. India reached 384, with Mahendra Singh Dhoni still at the crease.
When play began, India were 295 for 3, and had a full day's play been possible that would have been a good platform from which to build. But, given all the time lost, and how flat this pitch is - its nature had not changed in the least despite all the moisture that had been around - it's becoming increasingly difficult to see either team forcing a win in this Test match.
If anything, the loss of time has made one scenario more likely, and that is India batting long in their first innings and then attempting to bowl out Bangladesh twice. However, for that to happen, India had to score quickly and give their bowlers enough time to get to work. The fact that Tendulkar and Ganguly, both left out of the one-day team for this tour, were nearing centuries, meant that the pace was unlikely to be anything to write home about.
Still, Ganguly looked to play his shots, picking up three boundaries on the road from 82 to 100. Two of those were pull shots, struck in front of square once each off Shahadat Hossain and Mashrafe Mortaza. There was also a sweetly timed straight drive off Mohammad Rafique, which was scarecely more than a checked shot, but the timing was impeccable and the placement perfectly inbetween bowler and mid-on.
The century came in slightly ungainly fashion, when Ganguly fended away a short ball from Shahadat with an awkward pull shot. There was relief on Ganguly's face as he held his arms aloft, acknowledging the scattered cheers, having reached three figures in Tests for the first time since September 2005, against Zimbabwe at Bulawayo. There he made 101 off 262 balls, reaching his century with a boundary, and was dismissed off the very next ball. In a manner of speaking history repeated itself at the Divisional Stadium in Chittagong. Two balls after reaching his hundred Ganguly was dismissed, playing the pull, as he top-edged the ball straight up in the air for mid-off to catch.
Meanwhile, Tendulkar was inching towards his own milestone. As has been his method in recent times he cut out all risky shots, and instead concentrated on picking off the ones and twos - mostly ones - through the on-side, shuffling across his stumps and closing the face of the bat, working the ball to the on-side. But when the ball was loose - pitched a touch short, and width afforded, or too full - Tendulkar did not hold back, clattering Mashrafe Mortaza through point and then punching back past the bowler for consecutive boundaries to move from 85 to 93. Tendulkar got to his 36th hundred with a punch to mid-on.
The arrival of Dhoni, at the fall of Ganguly's wicket, did plenty to elevate the run-rate, and give India's innings some much needed momentum. Dhoni began as he meant to go on, with an aggressively punched boundary. But even as Dhoni motored on India lost their third wicket to a batsman attempting to pull a ball from outside the off stump as Tendulkar failed to get hold of one from Shahadat and skied the ball to the off side. Tendulkar had made 101.
Ramesh Powar replaced Tendulkar, and in the fading light Dhoni continued to force the pace, constantly looking to attack the mediumpacers. He picked up six boundaries in typically flamboyant fashion, but Powar failed in his duty to keep Dhoni company. Powar came down the pitch and had an ambitious heave at a straight one from Mohammad Rafique and found his stumps violently rearranged. Anil Kumble, who came in to bat at No. 8, was more sensible, and restrained, and ensured that he kept his wicket intact when stumps were drawn. This left Dhoni, batting on 36 from 35 balls, with another stab at the Bangladeshis on the third day. India need to look for quick runs and a declaration, if they are to make a serious attempt at winning this Test.