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May 25, 2007
Stumps India 326 for 0 (Jaffer 138*, Dravid 88*, Karthik 82*) v Bangladesh
Scorecard and ball-by-ball commentary
It wasn't so much what India's batsmen accomplished; it was how they did it. Wasim Jaffer and Dinesh Karthik epitomised the very meaning of building a platform during their 175-run opening stand, interrupted only by Karthik's forced retirement on the stroke of tea; Jaffer shrugged off a pair at Chittagong with a composed hundred, in the company of the effortlessly brilliant Rahul Dravid; and after Jaffer too retired from cramps, Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar mined the same vein of intent that gave India the day's honours.
What began with all the elements of a sultry but buzzing Friday afternoon had quickly turned quiet, then ominous, for Bangladesh fans as India cashed in on Habibul Bashar's gross miscalculation of a low surface which will only get flatter as the first Test to be played at Dhaka's Sher-e-Bangla stadium continues.
Jaffer and Karthik, in three outings, had added 153, 0 and 0, but this effort could well translate into an Indian victory. On Friday, their association had two shades, and they set India's platform with a time-tested formula: see out the first session, accelerate later, and give the remaining batsmen the freedom to play their shots.
In the first session, during which Mashrafe Mortaza and Syed Rasel bowled very well and just 67 runs were scored, Jaffer played the sheet-anchor role and his shots on merit. Very much the hero of the day, he started off as the senior partner in terms of rotating strike. Boundaries were few; Jaffer flicked and on-drove sweetly and placed one beauty through the covers as he went into the break on 40.
Jaffer isn't one to put bums on seats, but there is a pleasing nature to his shots. They were all on view today, as he worked all corners of the ground. It was a typical Jaffer innings, shuffling across and working the ball to his favoured leg side and cutting when offered even a little width. Dropped by Mohammad Rafique second ball after lunch, he brought up his fifty with a spanking pull, and reached the bigger landmark with an on-driven four. He now has four Test hundreds, each against different teams in different countries. He too succumbed to dehydration an hour before stumps, but will have the advantage of coming out refreshed and confident should it be needed.
It was the second session, however, that launched the Indian innings. Call it strategy, advice from themanagement, or just a darn good snack, but Karthik chucked his defensive approach for a far more aggressive attitude after lunch. In just about an hour's nimble-footed driving mainly to the off side, combined with firm on-side strokes, Karthik changed the tempo.
Before the interval, the pace of scoring had been rather different, with Karthik making just 22 from 84 balls. From the 69 he faced in the second session, he cracked 60, 14 coming from four Mashrafe Mortaza deliveries just after lunch. Fifty-seven runs were scored in 10 overs, with Karthik the aggressor. In sight of a maiden Test hundred, he hobbled off at tea with cramps and dehydration.
Rahul Dravid came in and did his best to stamp out the home team's spirit, if any remained, with a stroke-filled 88. He's scored runs around the world, but dislodging him on a pitch like this is next to impossible. Fours flew at the start, and as shoulders dropped at the end of the day, Dravid stepped out and launched Mohammad Ashraful for six over long-on. Given the hard work done by Jaffer and Karthik, Dravid was able to come out and bat like gold. Even in the last over of the day, he middled his shots and found the ropes.
Tendulkar, out in the middle for 31 deliveries, did what was expected of him in the circumstances. They say batting in Test cricket is about sessions, and if so, India won on all accounts.
As for Bangladesh, they had to bowl in pretty tough conditions and only the never-tiring Mortaza and Rasel, in his first two spells, posed any threat. The side also were let down by Bashar setting very conservative fields. That said, the chances that did come their way - bar one poor caught-behind decision that reprieved Karthik off recalled pace bowler Mohammad Sharif in the afternoon - were grassed, notably Shakib Al Hasan's spilt sitter at second slip in the eighth over of the day.
Bashar's captaincy lacked a sense of direction, motivation was hard to come by, and his decision to bowl on a flat deck did absolutely nothing to quell demands from certain quarters that he should retire.
In all, the heat and humidity took its toll on three players - Rasel had to leave the field late in the day - but the manner in which the Indians batted took far more out of Bangladesh.
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