Gambhir and Dravid pile on hundreds
India 334 for 2 (Dravid 145*, Gambhir 139) v Bangladesh
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
India, led by Rahul Dravid and Gautam Gambhir, put on a show of batting might at Chittagong, ending the first day on 334 for 2. Dravid ended his dry run with an unbeaten 145 that made him the first cricketer to score Test hundreds in all ten Test-playing nations, while Gambhir scored his first, an attractive 139. They came together when Virender Sehwag fell early on, and went about decimating a modest attack on a heartbreakingly flat pitch. There was no respite for Bangladesh even when they were parted, for Sachin Tendulkar took control and ended the day with a flurry of boundaries.
After his 270 against Pakistan in April, Dravid endured a run of low scores and batting seemed to have become a struggle. In the last Test he had the mortification of being bowled for duck while offering no stroke. But today, the confident strokeplay returned as he marched to his 18th Test hundred, which he brought up with a cover-driven four off the back foot in the first over after tea. It took him 196 balls to reach the mark.
A feature of the 259-run stand between Dravid and Gambhir, India's highest second-wicket partnership abroad, was the beauty of their strokes. Gambhir was fed a stream of hittable deliveries outside off, which he eagerly cut and drove to the boundary. In one over by Nazmul Hossain, Gambhir effortlessly split the field on four occasions. He brought up his 50 in 60 balls, and scored his next 50 in 71. By then he had hit 16 fours, many of which had enviable placement and timing, and allowed Dravid to bat himself in.
Dravid began circumspectly, but quickened the pace after lunch. He scored a number of his runs down the ground as the bowlers strayed in both line and length. There were cover-drives and on-drives as well. One push off Talha Jubair, timed well, threaded through a narrow gap between two fielders in the covers and raced to the ropes.
Barring Mashrafe Mortaza, none of the bowlers threatened the batsmen. Hossain found swing but no pace, while Jubair - who swung the ball at 130kph - was wayward and expensive. However, Hossain, making his first-class debut as well as his Test one, claimed his first wicket when Gambhir attempted a pull and dragged the ball onto his stumps instead (273 for 2). His 139 came off 196 balls.
Then Tendulkar asserted his dominance over the bowlers, playing a series of cover-drives and flicks to the leg side to end the day on 36. He ran hard, hit hard, and displayed form that would worry most teams. Bangladesh struggled, and had a hard time on the field, while India had it easy. A little too easy, perhaps, for this game to be an accurate barometer of their form.
Rahul Bhatia is on the staff of Cricinfo.