Series review

Bangladesh v India, 2007

Utpal Shuvro

Test matches (2): Bangladesh 0, India 1
One-day internationals (3): Bangladesh 0, India 2


Sachin Tendulkar was rested, or dropped, for the ODIs but returned in style for the Tests © Getty Images
Enlarge
 

Revenge and redemption were the buzzwords when India came to Bangladesh in May 2007, for only the second series between the neighbours. It had an unexpected edge, given vivid memories of the World Cup, where Bangladesh had sent India packing in their first game. The defeat resulted in a premature exit that sent shockwaves through Indian cricket.

There were demonstrations on the streets, effigies were burned and there was talk of wholesale changes. Though Rahul Dravid retained the captaincy, coach Greg Chappell resigned. The board and team were arguing over reform of the players' payment system. The tour of Bangladesh, which would normally have been a low-key affair, suddenly became the centre of huge attention.

This backdrop was reflected in India's selections. Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly, two former captains, were "rested" for the one-day series - which many read as "dropped". Ganguly had been out of favour for a year, making his comeback shortly before the World Cup, but Tendulkar's omission had a special significance: it was the first time the Indian selectors had not included him when fit.

Both were recalled for the Tests and made statements by scoring hundreds, Tendulkar one in each of the two matches. They were nowhere near vintage Tendulkar, but the sort of workmanlike innings which have lately become more familiar. But a century is a century and Tendulkar, who already had more than anyone else in Tests or one-day internationals, had two more. The conditions were hardly ideal for cricket. May is the cruellest month in Bangladesh for heat and humidity; the players had to fight against heatstroke and cramp, and the physios were the busiest men on the ground. But when Bangladesh coach Dav Whatmore was asked about the timing, he retorted, "Tell me, when else could we have played?" India had a busy season ahead, and the fact that they remained the only country never to invite Bangladesh to tour, defying the International Cricket Council's Future Tours Programme, showed their lack of interest.

Unsurprisingly, India won both series. Bangladesh let them off the hook in the first one-day international, and thus sacrificed the psychological advantage gained from winning two of the last three games between the sides. India clinched the second match at a canter, while the third was washed out.

Bangladesh earned an honourable draw in the First Test, thanks to Mashrafe bin Mortaza and the Chittagong rain. But in the Second, the inaugural Test at their new headquarters in Mirpur, they surrendered tamely, conceding India's biggest ever win. This was Bangladesh's first Test series in 13 months, since Australia's visit in April 2006, and it showed. Patience, the basic ingredient of Test batting, was badly missing. Almost all the batsmen were guilty of playing cameos rather than building innings, with Mortaza the exception. That the spearhead of the pace attack was Bangladesh's highest run-scorer in the Tests, where he averaged 50, says more about the batsmen than Mortaza's emergence as an all-rounder. This series spelled the end of the joint reign of Whatmore and Habibul Bashar. Whatmore, the Australian who had guided Sri Lanka to the World Cup in 1996, moved on after four years in charge, though his hopes of winning the main Indian coaching job were frustrated; he had to settle for running the academy. Habibul afterwards resigned the one-day captaincy amid huge criticism of his batting form; he wanted to continue leading in Tests, but the Bangladesh board decided against splitting the role and appointed 22-year-old Mohammad Ashraful to succeed him.

Match reports for

1st ODI: Bangladesh v India at Dhaka, May 10, 2007
Report | Scorecard

2nd ODI: Bangladesh v India at Dhaka, May 12, 2007
Report | Scorecard

3rd ODI: Bangladesh v India at Chittagong, May 15, 2007
Report | Scorecard

1st Test: Bangladesh v India at Chittagong, May 18-22, 2007
Report | Scorecard

2nd Test: Bangladesh v India at Dhaka, May 25-27, 2007
Report | Scorecard

© John Wisden & Co.