First Test

Bangladesh v India

Amit Varma

At Dhaka, December 10, 11, 12, 13, 2004. India won by an innings and 140 runs. Toss: India.

That India would win, and easily, was never in doubt. Two of their greatest ever - Tendulkar and Kumble - were chasing records and hungry to do well, perhaps against the weakest opposition of their long and distinguished careers. And when India put Bangladesh in on a Bangabandhu Stadium pitch with a bit of bounce in it, one sensed Kumble would be among the wickets. But even he had to wait, as Pathan immediately hit his stride - and line and length to go with perfect shape into the right-hander - to scythe through the top order. Before the batsmen could come to terms with what was swerving at them, they were 50 for five.

But Mohammad Ashraful looked a cut above his team-mates and bolstered the middle order with a crisp unbeaten 60. With the gutsy Mohammad Rafique, he pushed the score from 106 for seven to 171, before Kumble claimed his slice of history, trapping Rafique in front with a typical fizzing slider to give him his 435th Test wicket - one more than Kapil Dev, India's previous record holder, but in 40 fewer Tests. Bangladesh had clawed their way back to some extent, but 184 all out on the first day, with Pathan claiming his maiden Test haul of five wickets, was never going to be enough. Sure enough, the second day was a roaring Indian bat-fest. The fall of seven wickets did not stop them from racking up 348, with Tendulkar drawing level with Sunil Gavaskar as Test cricket's most prolific centurion. An unbeaten 159, his 34th hundred, was not the toughest test of his career, yet he was dropped three times - two of them sitters - before he reached 50. For Tendulkar, who had been battling a painful tennis elbow for at least four months, the century was reconfirmation that a day would come when strength would return to his left arm, and with it the range of strokes.

On the third day, India romped to 526. Tendulkar's final contribution was a Test-best 248 not out, from 379 balls and including 35 fours in nine hours 12 minutes. "Forget about the record, forget the double-hundred, the very fact that I could bat this long was a relief and joy," he said. Zaheer Khan rollicked his way to 75, the highest score by a Test No. 11. When India's bowlers were let loose a second time, Pathan, the star of the first innings, just needed to run in and bowl with a strong wrist position, and the swinging ball took care of the rest. From 36 for five Bangladesh could forge no meaningful reply, and despite half-centuries from Nafis Iqbal and Manjural Islam Rana at either end of the innings, they were bowled out for 202, as Pathan secured victory with match figures of 11 for 96.

Man of the Match: I. K. Pathan.

© John Wisden & Co