Draw despite sporting declaration
A game that had been ravaged by rain briefly came to life on the final day with Rahul Dravid making a sporting declaration and throwing a healthy challenge to Bangladesh. Set 250 to win from a possible 43 overs, needing to score at less than a run-a-ball, Bangladesh threatened for a time. But once they lost a couple of wickets the chase was abandoned as the batsmen shut shop and played out a draw.
With 17 overs lost on the first day, 288 minutes on the second, the whole third day abandoned without a ball being bowled and play only starting at half-past one on the final day, it was a minor miracle that there was even a chance of a positive result - with both teams in the running - as the game drew to a close.
When play began on the final day the expectation was that India would get some solid batting practice under their belt as the game petered out into a tame draw. But India's intentions were refreshingly positive. They attacked from the word go, to the point where wickets fell with astounding regularity, but even this did not deter them.
India began on 44 for 1 and Dinesh Karthik and Sachin Tendulkar went hammer and tongs at the bowling. Karthik went to 22 and miscued a pull to be dismissed. Tendulkar (31) then tried to go after Mohammad Rafique and was bowled off the inside edge. Sourav Ganguly gave Rafique his second wicket when he came down the pitch and launched one into the deep towards square leg, only to be caught. Three wickets had fallen in the space of 18 quick runs, but India were still going for it.
Ramesh Powar had an almighty swipe at Rafique and was easily stumped. Mahendra Singh Dhoni clattered one four and a six, and to the surprise of almost everyone, Rahul Dravid declared the innings on 100 for 6. This sporting declaration left Bangladesh needing to score at 5.8 for 43 overs, infusing much-needed life into the game.
Bangladesh, in reply, could not resist going for the runs. And it was hardly surprising given just how generous India were in their declaration. Zaheer Khan and RP Singh opened the bowling, and while neither was able to get much in terms of swing or seam movement, the fact that Bangladesh's batsmen were going for runs kept the bowlers in the hunt. It was a stroke of luck that gave India its first breakthrough when RP Singh sent a half-volley well down the leg side to Nafees. The batsman shaped to flick, sensing a chance to pick up four easy runs, but only managed thin contact, and Dhoni took a fine catch diving to his right. At 12 for 1 India had a foot in the door.
|With 17 overs lost on the first day, 288 minutes on the second, the whole third day abandoned without a ball being bowled and play only starting at half-past one on the final day, it was a minor miracle that there was even a chance of a positive result - with both teams in the running - as the game drew to a close.|
But Javed Omar, who was mixing dour defense with effective chops down to the third-man region, and Habibul Bashar, with one eye on the scoreboard, continued to look for runs. Zaheer was especially disappointing in the manner in which he bowled on both sides of the wicket, often landing the ball too full, and Bashar helped himself to runs. The punch through cover was especially pleasing, and when tea was taken with the score on 30 for 1, the match was still very much alive. Anil Kumble's absence - he appeared briefly on the field - was again to Bangladesh's advantage.
After tea, however, the game quickly ran out of steam. Omar and Bashar had added 70 for the second wicket, and Bashar was just beginning to open his shoulders a bit, going after Powar, when he fell, against the run of play. Bashar had lofted Powar successfully once and tried to repeat the stroke, but only found RP Singh at wide long-on. Once Bashar was gone Bangladesh chose safety over adventurism. Omar helped himself to an unbeaten half-century, reaching 52, as play was called off at 5.20pm local time when both captains agreed there was little chance of a result being forced. Bangladesh had reached 104 for 2 from 28 overs. The teams now travel to Dhaka, hoping for better weather, with the scoreline still reading 0-0.
Anand Vasu is associate editor of Cricinfo