First Test Match

Bangladesh v India, 2007

Utpal Shuvro

At Chittagong Divisional Stadium, Chittagong, May 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 2007. Drawn.
Toss: India. Test debuts: Shakib Al Hasan; R. R. Powar.

Bangladesh achieved their fifth draw in 45 Tests, to go with 39 defeats and their victory over Zimbabwe. Rain is the norm in Chittagong in May and, after washing away the final one-day international, it chased this Test for all five days. Not a ball was bowled on the third, just 20 overs on the second, and there was only 219 overs' play in all. Dravid tried to make a game of it, declaring at 100 for six on the last afternoon to leave Bangladesh a target of 250 off 43 overs. Though his initiative deserved applause, it was not quite as sporting as some of the Indian media claimed. A sporting declaration gives both teams a chance, whereas this chase was beyond Bangladesh. Their coach, Dav Whatmore, termed it "a very tough call", while Dravid himself said his only hope had been that Bangladesh might be tempted to think it possible - "but they batted sensibly".

After Shahriar Nafees nicked to the keeper in the fourth over, Habibul Bashar joined Javed Omar, and a stand of 70 made sure the match was heading nowhere but a draw. The captains agreed to call it off after 28 overs, with Bangladesh 104 for two. The start of the match was far more dramatic. India had claimed first use of a pitch that looked very batting-friendly. Wasim Jaffer never found out. He shouldered arms to the first ball, from Mashrafe bin Mortaza, which, after pitching a shade outside off, came in to hit the top of off stump. It was to be a nightmarish Test for Jaffer: in the second innings, he lasted three balls, this time against Shahadat Hossain, but still failed to score. Adding to his embarrassment, his wife was watching from the stands.

Dravid responded to Jaffer's first duck by adding 124 with Karthik, the fourth secondwicket century partnership he had shared after the first wicket fell with no runs on the board. The only other batsman to achieve that feat even three times was Australia's Bill Woodfull. But it was Tendulkar and Ganguly who dominated India's first innings. Both had extra motivation to succeed, having been "rested" from the one-day squad when neither felt the urge to rest, and both hit centuries, only to be caught pulling immediately afterwards. Tendulkar batted circumspectly, hitting only nine fours, to reach his 36th Test hundred but his first since December 2005. The gap of 17 months, ten Tests and 17 innings was the longest he had ever gone between Test centuries. Ganguly, who had been waiting since September 2005, batted more adventurously, striking 13 fours and two sixes.

India declared after the third-day washout, and Bangladesh soon ran into trouble. Omar and Habibul fell to R. P. Singh in the sixth over, and only Rajin Saleh batted as if he knew it was a Test match. He survived nearly two and a half hours before he was sixth out at 116, which quickly became 122 for seven. It owed more to bad batting than good bowling - Kumble could not deliver a single ball because of a fever - but the meagre follow-on target of 188 looked huge.

Mortaza chose this moment to announce his potential as a genuine all-rounder. He had already taken four wickets; now he batted with refreshing confidence, adding 77, a Bangladesh ninth-wicket record, with new-ball partner Shahadat. When Shahadat was bowled by Tendulkar's googly, the follow-on had long been saved, and India's best chance of a win had gone. Mortaza was last out for a Test-best 79, from 91 balls with seven fours and three sixes.

Thanks to Jaffer's pair, Dravid again found himself batting in the first over, but did not last long this time. After flicking Shahadat beautifully, he looked on in shock as Rajin leapt at square leg to pluck the ball from the air one-handed. Next day, Dravid declared again, but Mortaza and the rain had already settled the course of the match.

Man of the Match: Mashrafe bin Mortaza.

© John Wisden & Co.