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The Bulletin by Siddhartha Vaidyanathan
December 12, 2004
Bangladesh 184 and 170 for 8 (Nafis 54, Manjural 50*, Pathan 5-31) trail India 526 (Tendulkar 248*, Zaheer 75) by 172 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Bangladesh were left clinging on to strands of straws after being tormented by a record-breaking tenth-wicket partnership between Sachin Tendulkar and Zaheer Khan and were laid low by another devastating burst of swing bowling from Irfan Pathan. Pathan's second five-wicket haul in the match and his first ten-for reduced Bangladesh to 170 for 8 in their second innings, still 172 behind, and only the last rites remained in the first Test.
On another day when records tumbled and fielders fumbled, Tendulkar and Zaheer notched up their individual best scores, adding 133 runs for the last wicket in about two hours. They eclipsed the Indian record (109) set by Ghulam Ahmed and Hemu Adhikari in 1952 against Pakistan at New Delhi and equalled the second-highest partnership in Tests. A familiar script unfolded when Bangladesh batted and just like the first innings, the top order came apart in the face of Pathan's inswingers. The Test seemed headed for a third-day finish with Bangladesh tottering at 36 for 5, but fighting half centuries from Nafis Iqbal and Manjural Islam Rana delayed the inevitable.
Exactly one year earlier, on a sunny day at Adelaide, Pathan took his first steps on the international stage. Today he celebrated the occasion with a masterly display of swing bowling with a clear plan that was perfectly executed, and was rewarded with his first ten-wicket haul in Tests. He tortured the batsmen with a few menacing short ones before nailing them with fuller deliveries that curved either way.
The Bangladesh batsmen revisited the horrors of the first innings with Javed Omar and Rajin Saleh coming down too late on deliveries that swung in, Habibul Bashar pulling a short one straight to the fine-leg fielder and Khaled Mashud hanging his bat out tentatively. Ashraful couldn't reproduce his first-innings defiance and Saleh capped a woeful Test, including a dropped catch off Tendulkar, with a pair. Pathan's fiery inswingers helped him win seven lbw verdicts in the match, equalling Abdul Qadir's record for the most number of such dismissals in a Test. Qadir had managed them against England at Lahore in 1987.
Nafis Iqbal was the only batsman who handled Pathan with any sort of assurance and his 54, laced with nine fours, was one of the few silver linings for Bangladesh. Once he fell, trapped lbw to a straighter one from Anil Kumble, Manjural pulled the trigger, swinging wildly while racing to his maiden Test fifty, and ended a gloomy day on a cheerful note.
Pathan's jolts, though, was only the final phase of Bangladesh being ground to dust. Earlier in the morning, Tendulkar nearly ran out of partners in the 190s - with Kumble and Harbhajan Singh not lasting too long - when he found an unlikely ally in Zaheer. The two went on a merry drive as several milestones were passed with Tendulkar reaching his fourth double-century in Tests, and his second this year. Staggeringly his last five hundreds have all been over 175, and unlike his restrained classic at Sydney earlier this year, this one had glorious touches of his attacking range. He also went on to his highest score in first-class cricket and along the way, he passed Ijaz Ahmed's 211 against Sri Lanka to post the highest score at the Bangabandhu Stadium.
At the other end Zaheer not only survived, but began a party of his own. Along with Tendulkar he put on 133 for the last wicket - an Indian record for the last wicket - where he outscored Tendulkar by 15 runs and took much more of the strike. He didn't need any shielding and was more than eager to let fly some bullets of his own. He swished and drove with complete confidence, raced to his first fifty in Test cricket and went past Ghulam Ahmed's 52-year-old record for the highest score by an Indian No. 11. Soon he cruised past Glenn McGrath's 61 with an assured pull before overtaking Richard Collinge's 68 for the highest score by a No. 11 in Tests. A left-arm fast bowler himself, Collinge had made the score against Pakistan at Auckland in 1973.
Zaheer fell for 75 but, like many others, was the beneficiary of some sloppy fielding. Bangladesh were ragged with their catching and repeatedly erred with their ground fielding. Kumble and Tendulkar got themselves into a bizarre mix-up when both batsmen should have been run-out by yards. Instead, a bad throw, some clumsy juggling by Khaled Mashud and some poor reactions allowed both batsmen to make their crease. The Indian dressing-room was in fits of laughter while Bangladesh continued to wallow in the daze. It's been the story of this Test.
Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is on the staff of Cricinfo.
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