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The Bulletin by Siddhartha Vaidyanathan
December 10, 2004
Bangladesh 184 (Ashraful 60*, Pathan 5-45) v India
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
History was made at the Bangabandhu Stadium as Anil Kumble scaled Indian bowling's Mount Everest on a day when Bangladesh stuttered against incisive left-arm swing bowling. Kumble's feat overshadowed the performance of Irfan Pathan, who claimed his first five-wicket haul in Tests, and a battling unbeaten half-century from Mohammad Ashraful which lent a degree of respectability to the Bangladesh total.
Once India decided to field this morning, Kumble's moment was bound to come, but he had to wait till the dying moments of the day as Pathan sliced through the Bangladesh top order with an impressive display of swing bowling. At 4.28pm, with the light gradually fading, the big moment arrived. Kumble's first 11 overs were wicketless, and he struggled with his length for most of that time. But finally a faster one that rapped Mohammad Rafique on the pads did the trick, and Kumble pumped his fists before breaking into a relieved smile. It was fitting that he broke the record with the kind of ball that has been his most lethal weapon, and has helped him claim a huge chunk of his 436 wickets. The rest of the day, though, belonged to Pathan.
The dampness on the pitch might have delayed the start of the series, but the Bangladeshi batsmen soon found themselves sinking in quicksand as Pathan tore the top order apart. In November last year, Pathan had scythed through the Bangladesh Under-19 side at Lahore with 9 for 16 - including a hat-trick - and Nafis Iqbal's 9 turned out to be the highest score for the Bangladeshis. Nafis managed 20 today, but was one of the five batsmen who were undone by Pathan's swerve and zing. Pathan's 5 for 45 was his career-best, and it's amazing to think that in two days' time he will complete just his first year on the international stage.
Bangladesh have capitulated to left-arm swing in the past, with the New Zealander James Franklin their most recent tormentor. Today they fell in heaps with two batsmen falling in successive balls on three occasions, twice to Pathan and once to Kumble at the end of the day. They got no respite this afternoon as the Baroda duo of Pathan and Zaheer Khan gave them a serious examination with swing and bounce. Pathan blasted open the floodgates with some incisive indippers - four of his victims were trapped plumb in front - while Zaheer prised out two more at the other end.
Pathan consistently shaped the ball into the right-handers, and Javed Omar was devoured after a suicidal shouldering of arms. Nafis showed glimpses of flourish in his flashy 20, but was clueless, as was Rajin Saleh in the very next ball, when faced with a sharply dipping ball. Zaheer snared Habibul Bashar, pulling one down square leg's throat, while Khaled Mashud feathered an edge to Dinesh Karthik behind the stumps. Bangladesh were 50 for 5 in the 16th over, and although the pitch was drying out, their spirits were getting severely dampened.
That was when Ashraful led the resuscitation. He bided his time and played out the quick bowlers before settling in to counter the spinners. Along with Manjural Islam Rana and Rafique, he stitched together battling partnerships and nudged the score past 150. Ashraful was assured against the spinners, and showed tremendous gumption while facing up to the fast men. His 65-run stand with Rafique contained some bold strokeplay, with both of them capitalising on some loose offerings.
However, just when it seemed that they would take Bangladesh through to stumps, Kumble struck, to etch his name in gold on top of India's bowling pantheon.
Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is on the staff of Cricinfo.
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