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January 25, 2010
Having failed to take advantage of the toss, Bangladesh paid the full penalty on the second day, as India's batsmen built up a formidable total in favourable conditions. There were centuries for Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid after Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir put together their seventh three-figure partnership. With plenty of batting to come and the lead already well over 200, Bangladesh were staring at another heavy defeat.
It could have been worse if not for a Shahadat Hossan bouncer that didn't lift appreciably and smashed into the side of Dravid's face. He retired hurt straight away, and was taking for a precautionary check-up. By then, the partnership with Tendulkar was worth 222, with both men taking heavy toll of a tiring attack.
Tendulkar had taken 89 balls for his half-century, but he needed only a further 45 deliveries to bring up his 45th hundred. He played his usual array of sweeps, some of them with immense power, and threaded the odd ball through the offside cordon as the runs came in a flurry. Dravid too speeded up with a hundred in sight, and got there with a magnificent off-drive off Shakib Al Hasan.
After his exit, Tendulkar and Murali Vijay consolidated. Vijay timed the ball superbly in front of the wicket, and played a delicate late-cut off Shakib in a 30-run cameo that ended when he came down the track and found the man at mid-on. By then, Tendulkar had gone in similar fashion, having already struck Shakib for six and four down the ground earlier in the over. Harbhajan Singh edged the day's penultimate delivery from Shafiul Islam behind, but with Yuvraj Singh to come, Bangladesh's bowling travails were far from over.
They hadn't helped their cause by dropping Tendulkar twice, while Dravid too enjoyed his fair share of fortune. Raqibul Hasan had batted poorly on the opening day and his catching, or lack of it, cost his team on Monday. Tendulkar had just survived an inside-edge off the impressive Rubel Hossain when he miscued one in the direction of gully. Raqibul got both hands to it, and dropped it. He was on 27 at the time, and when he had made 50, Raqibul put down a more difficult chance to his left at point. This time, Shahadat was the luckless bowler, and Tendulkar celebrated the reprieves by batting with real fluency in the half hour before tea.
Shakib had gone off with a shin problem, and as hard as the bowlers toiled, with so few runs on the board, there was little pressure on the batsmen, who picked the gaps and moved the score along steadily. Both men came down the pitch occasionally to the spinners, and drove beautifully through the covers, while Dravid also played some fine strokes through midwicket. His good luck had arrived before lunch, and he made the most of it. He had made just nine when Shafiul claimed a run-out after Gautam Gambhir smashed one straight back down the pitch. The Bangladeshis were convinced that Shafiul's little finger had brushed the ball, but with replays inconclusive, the third umpire had to rule in the batsman's favour.
Then, when he was on 28, an excellent bouncer from Rubel caught him unawares. The fend was superbly caught by Junaid Siddique at slip, but even as Dravid trudged off, Billy Bowden was signalling a no-ball. Having resumed on 69 for 0, the Indians had seen Sehwag survive a very good shout from Shahadat early on, and when he then cracked one through the covers to reach 50, the omens were ominous. Gambhir too was in fluent touch, clipping Shafiul through midwicket and using both cute deflections and the straight bat to pinch fours off Shahadat.
Sehwag bludgeoned one straight to bring up three figures, but the very next delivery reared up at him and took the glove on its way to Mushfiqur Rahim. Dravid took his time to play himself in, and Gambhir assumed the scoring mantle, with a back-foot punch and a guide through the slips off Shafiul taking him to a half-century for the 11th match in succession - equalling the record set by Sir Vivian Richards.
Having found his bearings, Dravid started to play some gorgeous strokes through cover, off pace and spin alike, and when Gambhir was caught in an ungainly tangle by Shafiul's bouncer, it was very much against the grain of play. But with Tendulkar easing his way into the proceedings with a nudge here and a push there, it was still India that held the ace-hand as the teams went to lunch. After that, with Bangladesh unable to hold on to the chances that came their way, it was all one-way traffic, 390 runs worth of it.
Dileep Premachandran is an associate editor at CricinfoFeeds: Dileep Premachandran
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