Bangladesh impress, but doubts linger
Will Bangladesh be satisfied with their performance or will they see it as an opportunity lost to put more pressure on India? Mushfiqur Rahim, the man who hit his maiden Test hundred and gave Bangladesh something to cheer about, chose to look at the positives.
"We nearly took 20 wickets. Our pace bowlers did the job and Shakib [Al Hasan], as always, contributed a lot. Tamim Iqbal batted really well too," he said before pinpointing the problem that led Bangladesh squander a great chance. "If some of [the] other top-order batsmen can also score some runs, we can do really well in the second Test."
A few hard decisions need to be taken. Mohammad Ashraful has played 51 Tests. How many is too many for him? The other day Akram Khan, a national selector, offered a hint. "We have been forced to stick with him because there aren't enough senior players around," he told Cricinfo. "We have had good players like Raqibul, Tamim and Shakib come in and they are established players now. But we don't have too many senior players, so we have been forced to stick with Ashraful. Obviously, if he doesn't score consistently now, we will have to think again."
Shariar Nafees really looked very shaky to be batting at No. 3. Was it just nerves of bveing on comeback or was it something more than that? Should Mahmudullah be pushed up the order? Does the Vettori of Bangladesh, Shakib, need to go one spot above or is he perfect where he is? Does Mushfiqur need to bat slightly higher? He answered that one himself. "It's a management decision. I guess, in Tests, it doesn't get easy to keep for 100 overs and bat at No's 3 or 4. I will do what my team wants."
However, for a team that doesn't play a lot of Tests, Bangladesh did really well. There were quite a few special moments. Shakib's bowling was as nagging as ever. His twin dismissals of Virender Sehwag must have been as special a moment for him as it was for the fans who saw it as a perfect revenge for what Sehwag said before the match.
Rubel Hossain, in an impressive spell post lunch on fourth day, removed Sachin Tendulkar and reminded Yuvraj Singh that he still had a lot to do before he is seen as a genuine Test batsman. On a flat track, Rubel hit Yuvraj once on the back of the head and hurried him on a few other occasions.
Tamim Iqbal, since his "turning point" hundred against West Indies has been walking the talk. He wants to learn to bat long and he has been doing that of late. It was a fine performance in the second innings; he found almost the right balance between aggression and defense and you couldn't really cuss him for the shot that he got out to. It was there to be hit, but he didn't execute his thought properly. Shahadat Hossain, who is still trying to come to terms with his action changes, got wickets and Shafiul Islam, despite not being among the wickets, was the best Bangladeshi seamer on view in the first innings.
And who can forget Mushfiqur's furious counter-attacking knock? "They called me a school boy," he said with a smile at what the Indians told him when he was batting at the end of a memorable day. It wasn't a complaint, just a reply to a direct question on the issue. "It's part of the game. I like when people sledge me. I didn't say anything back, just wanted to answer with my bat."
He does look like a schoolboy and has a sense of a charming naughtiness of one about him, be it while keeping batting or even while addressing the press. He is a live wire and the heart of Bangladesh when they are on the field with his constant chatter from behind the stumps. Bangladesh would do well if they had more Mushfiqurs.
Sriram Veera is a staff writer at Cricinfo