Seamers give India early advantage
An impressive unbeaten 96 from Mahmudullah rescued the Bangladesh innings from utter ignominy, but the starts squandered by other batsmen were threatening to haunt them by day's end, as India knocked off 69 runs from just 13 overs, with Virender Sehwag cruising to 41 not out. With the conditions likely to be most batsmen-friendly on the second day, Bangladesh were left to reflect on an opportunity squandered after winning the toss. Both Mohammad Ashraful and Shakib Al Hasan got out to appalling strokes, and it was left to Mahmudullah to lead Bangladesh to 233 all out, a significant improvement on the 51 for 5 that the scoreboard showed when Ashraful had his brain fade.
The last two wickets added 78, with Shafiul Islam defying India for 39 balls and Rubel Hossain keeping out 25 before Harbhajan Singh sneaked one through his defence to leave Mahmudullah stranded. He had struck two fours in a Harbhajan over to get within touching distance, but after nearly 30 overs of batting with No.10 and Jack, his luck ran out. As he walked off though, several Indian fielders ran up to shake his hand. It had been that kind of innings.
He had marked his guard after Mushfiqur Rahim, centurion in Chittagong, had been trapped on the crease by Ishant Sharma. He eased nerves with a neat glance for four off Zaheer Khan and then continued to go for his shots once Shakib had chased a wide one from Zaheer into the hands of MS Dhoni. Zaheer was then pulled and upper-cut for four and after Shahadat Hossain went, stumped off the bowling of Pragyan Ojha, he swept and reverse-swept Harbhajan to keep the Indians on their toes.
A cover-drive that Ojha couldn't stop at the boundary took him to his half-century from 71 balls, and he continued to sweep and cut as Shafiul offered stout resistance at one end. It was all a far cry from the morning, when one batsman after another appeared to be in a hurry to get back to the comforts of the pavilion.
They were not helped by the first decision going against them either. Ishant's first ball, the seventh of the innings, was heading down the leg side when it deflected off something on its way to Dhoni's gloves. The Indians went up in appeal, and so did Billy Bowden's crooked finger, though replays subsequently showed that the ball had brushed Imrul Kayes' thigh pad.
Tamim Iqbal had walked the talk on the eve of the game, but the only walking he did was on his way back, bowled off the pad after a statuesque waft against a Zaheer delivery that nipped back. Soon after, Junaid Siddique, who had replaced Shahriar Nafees at No.3, followed him, gloving a pull down the leg side for Dhoni to take. Troubled by the short ball, his attempt to hit his way out of trouble came to naught.
Ashraful was having a go at everything pitched up to him, and while there were a couple of fortuitous inside edges, he also played superb strokes off his pads and through cover. But the innings still lacked any hint of stability, with Raqibul Hasan's vigil ended by a thick edge off Ishant that Rahul Dravid took easily at second slip. Pushed back by a succession of short balls, Raqibul couldn't resist the one pitched up.
Ojha came on in the 13th over and Ashraful announced his intentions with a flail through the covers. This though is a batsman who shows no sign of maturity even after eight years as a Test cricketer, and a headless-chicken charge off the next delivery presented Dhoni with the simplest of stumpings. He had made 39 from just 31 balls.
Mushfiqur carried on where he left off in Chittagong with some pleasing drives and cuts either side of lunch, and Shakib followed suit, but it was left to Mahmudullah to surpass the 69 he made in Chittagong and bring something substantial to the proceedings.
Sehwag came out in typically forthright fashion, cutting, driving and working the ball off his toes as the runs accumulated at a fair clip. And after a sedate start, Gambhir joined in with some attacking strokes as the most prolific opening pair in world cricket set about showing Bangladesh's top order just how to build a Test innings.
Dileep Premachandran is an associate editor at Cricinfo