May 30, 2000

Rain splits India-Bangladesh encounter

Exactly after half the Bangladesh innings was completed, torrential downpour stopped play in the Asia Cup match in Dhaka on Tuesday. Sheets and sheets of rain belted down at the Bangabandhu stadium, leaving the hosts stranded on 98/2. In no time it was obvious that there was no chance of play resuming. However for the sake of formalcy, the umpires inspected the conditions at 18.30 hours local time and called of play for the day. Although there was no mention of rain interrupted games being later continued in the rules of the tournament, that is what the Bangladesh Cricket Board has resorted to. Tomorrow, the players will take the field and attempt to complete this match. However, the severity of the rains will make it nigh on impossible for play to start on time.

Bangladesh won the toss and elected to bat first on a belter of a wicket. Indian captain Sourav Ganguly was not particularly worried. Going into the match with Ajit Agarkar, Thirunavukarasu Kumaran, Anil Kumble and Sunil Joshi at his disposal in the bowling department, Ganguly was in an attacking frame of mind. After the drubbing they received at the hands of the Lankans in the opening match of the tournament, the morale of the hosts cannot be very high.

Hemang Badani got his first break in international cricket because Ajay Jadeja was a bit under the weather. The youngster made a good 162 against Mumbai in the semifinals of the Ranji Trophy and has been rewarded sooner than anyone expected.

Agarkar opened the bowling with Kumaran and bowled with good pace. Kumaran too stretched himself and struck the first blow for India bowling the in form Javed Omar in just the fourth over of the day.

After yesterday's rather slow batting, Bangladesh seemed to approach the game a bit more aggressively today. Shahriar Hossain struck two good blows but holed out to Joshi at mid on attempting one stroke too many.

Habibul Basher lived up to his second name. Bashing the Indian bowlers around in the company of Aminul Islam, he took Bangladesh to a position of reasonable safety. Although there was nothing for the hosts to feel too happy about, the body language of the batsmen out in the middle showed a marked improvement from the first game. Clouting Joshi back over his head for a six that cleared the sight screen by a fair bit, Basher got the considerable crowd at the stadium to stand up and applaud.

Apart from one full toss that was hit away through covers for four, Kumble proved to be hard to get away. Bowling his brand of quick leg breaks he skidded off the wicket and kept the batsmen quiet. Getting the ball to jump on occasions, Kumble beat the batsmen for pace more than once. Unfortunately one of those deliveries beat wicketkeeper Saba Karim all ends up and hit him smack in the face. Reacting slowly, Karim was unable to bring his gloves up quickly enough and the sickening blow left him dazed. He was helped off the field by physio Andrew Leipus and Amit Bhandari even as Rahul Dravid donned the pads.

Dravid however was taking no chances and had his helmet on in a jiffy. Like Dravid, the Bangladesh batsmen too were taking no risks and had slowed down considerably. They were 98/2 with Habibul Basher unbeaten on 45 when the skies opened and rain smothered the stadium.