Zaheer adds to Bangladesh woes
A torrent of runs took India to a mammoth 610 for 3 declared before Zaheer Khan found proof of life in a comatose surface to reduce Bangladesh to 58 for 5 at the close of a bat-dominated day two in Dhaka. Rahul Dravid, Dinesh Karthik and Sachin Tendulkar all made centuries, the first instance of Nos 1 to 4 crossing three figures, and accounted for 381 runs between them. In sharp contrast, Bangladesh's top three were back in the hut inside three overs to round off a great day for India.
Zaheer gave India the perfect start with the ball. Javed Omar poked at the very first delivery and edged to Karthik at third slip. Two gullys and point came in and RP Singh needed just four deliveries to remove a clueless Habibul Bashar, edging a lifter to the keeper. Zaheer made it 7 for 3 when he bowled a leaden-footed Shahriar Nafees for 2 and the very next delivery jagged back to strike Mohammad Ashraful flush on the pads, leaving umpire Billy Doctrove with the easiest of decisions.
Shakib Al Hasan drove the hat-trick ball to the point boundary and was then dropped by Karthik at third slip. It wasn't his only gaffe. Five balls later, he let off Rajin Saleh at the same position. Ramesh Powar too showed his generosity, giving Shakib another life at point.
Anil Kumble got his first bowl of the series and joined the fun with his fourth ball, as Saleh prodded a topspinner to forward short leg. The first three bowlers had all taken a wicket in their first over, and where Bangladesh had taken three in close to two days, India needed a mere 16 overs to get five.
The day began as it ended for India. Dravid set the ball rolling with his 24th hundred, Karthik notched up his maiden one and Tendulkar ground out his 37th. Dravid looked the best of the lot, picking up ones and twos at will and hitting out when he felt the need. He got as far as 129 before spooning one to point, when just five adrift of the record stand for the first wicket (413), set by Pankaj Roy and Vinoo Mankad against New Zealand in 1955-56.
Karthik resumed on 82 and quickly raised three figures from the ball before lunch. On Friday, he had put in the hard yards and after he reached the landmark he played some aggressive shots, an indication that he knew the plot from there. He slammed Mortaza over mid-off for four and lofted Rafique over the on-side, but on 130, he top-edged a pull off a rank long-hop from Mortaza.
Where Dravid was fluent and Karthik almost urgent, Tendulkar, the fourth centurion, lost much of what little momentum he had in the first session. On the stroke of tea, however, he tapped one to leg and sprinted down to the other end and three figures. In the company of Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who typically wasted no time with an unbeaten 51 from 50 balls, Tendulkar trundled on to 122 before Dravid called time on the innings.
It was one-way traffic from the moment India were put in to bat, and it was no different when it was the Bangladeshis' turn.
Jamie Alter is an editorial assistant on Cricinfo