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Ishant outscores Sreesanth, while Zaheer dominates

A series between the top-rankers and the wooden-spoon holders of Test cricket was not expected to set the pulse racing, but India did their bit to spark some interest into a series that they ultimately won convincingly

The resurgence of Ishant Sharma, the assurance of Gautam Gambhir, the continuing dilemma over the second best spinner and the injures to regulars - in the end analysis it was an eventful series for India.
This wasn't supposed to be a competitive series but India did their best to make it one - and, in the process, made it more competitive. Virender Sehwag's pre-series salvo, the Indian batsmen's collapse on the first day, their uneasiness against bouncers in the second Test, Ishant Sharma finding some confidence, the number of injuries, Gautam Gambhir almost completing a Bradmanesque feat, Zaheer Khan's furious nine-ball spell on the last day, the battle for the second spinner's slot between Amit Mishra and Pragyan Ojha, and Sachin Tendulkar increasing his hundreds tally, all made for some interesting watching.
Ishant is smiling
Until Ishant Sharma does well against a better batting unit, it will be difficult to put his performance in this series in the right context. The lines improved, the control over the away-going delivery got better, though the offcutter lacked the verve of old, and he did pick up a few wickets but there was no earth-shattering spell. The greatest thing to come out of this tour was the lift in his confidence. He had started the tour with self-doubts but ended up with a permanent smile etched on his face. This tour would mean a lot to him.
A tour to forget for Sreesanth
On the eve of the first Test, he was the one jumping around with a smile. In the nets, he had troubled Rahul Dravid and co. with his cutters and everything looked in sync. Suddenly, inexplicably, he lost his rhythm in the game and struggled with no-balls, which had its effect on his rhythm as well. In the second innings, he ran into a swinging Mushfiqur Rahim and limped off with a hamstring injury.
Zaheer Khan bosses around
He did what was expected of the leader of the attack. Shakib Al Hasan said everything that was to be said: "Zaheer is a different bowler in Test cricket and in ODIs. It is very difficult to face him in Test cricket. With the new ball he always bowls in the right areas and with the old ball he starts to reverse swing."
Mishra and Ojha - the stalemate continues
Harbhajan Singh didn't play the first Test and never hit the high notes in the second. The real battle, though, was between Amit Mishra and Pragyan Ojha and it has to be said that both haven't done enough to claim superiority over the other. Mishra picked up a few cheap wickets in the first Test and Ojha did bowl a fine delivery to take out Ashraful in the second innings of the second Test but both lacked in consistency. Mishra has the variety, Ojha the inclination to be persistent with his lines, but neither really excelled. If Mishra was the attacking lead spinner in Chittagong, he didn't attack enough and if Ojha was the pressure-maintaining second spinner in Mirpur, he didn't apply pressure enough. Perhaps, it was the pressure to perform in solitary opportunities or perhaps, it was the pitch, but the stalemate continues between Ojha and Mishra.
The Gambhir juggernaut
The batting machine at the top of the order rolled along. Five hundreds in as many Tests and eleven fifty-plus scores in as many Tests - the sun shines brightly in Gautam Gambhir's world. What stood out in this series was that he didn't try to impose himself too much; he played according to match situations and treated the ball on merit. He never relaxed against what could have been perceived as a relatively weaker attack. He knows that form is temporary and he is making it count while it lasts. He was surprised by a bouncer from round the stumps in the second innings of the second Test but it was indeed a fine delivery.
Sehwag has the last laugh
It certainly was an interesting series for Sehwag. He was booed throughout but he didn't, seemingly, care. At the end of it, he even reiterated his pre-series stance of Bangladesh being an "ordinary side". He didn't hit a hundred but didn't fail either, always getting good starts.
No breaks in the Tendulkar show
When he made himself available for the two-Test series, he was expected to hit at least one hundred. When he scored two, no one was susprised. He almost plays within himself these days. There was no flamboyance in either hundreds and he didn't attempt to show off his reputation against Bangladesh. He pulled India out of trouble with the first hundred and pushed India to a strong position with the second. And, as ever, he was the most popular Indian cricketer.
Laxman does his bit
He was slightly unlucky in the way he got out in the first innings of the first Test. The ball rolled off the boot to the keeper and he couldn't get back in time. He made up for it in the second with an unbeaten 89-ball 69. When Yuvraj Singh was struggling against the bouncers, he seemed to have extra time to play those imperious pulls - the difference in class showed. However, a hand injury prevented him from playing the second Test.
Dravid hits back, before being hit
He got out playing a completely uncharacteristic shot in the first innings of the first Test. It was a very full delivery that shaped away late from middle and off, and he was done in, trying to whip across the line. He rarely plays such a flamboyant shot so early in an innings. The mind was not there again in the second, when he was run out, failing to ground the bat in time. His disappointment as he walked off, repeatedly crashing his bat on his pad and against the turf, showed he cared. In the second Test, he hit a hundred. He was dropped once, edging a lifter, and fractured his jaw ducking into a bouncer.
Yuvraj misses out
He had two outings and failed in both. He mistimed a full toss in the first and fell in tame fashion in the second after struggling for a while. On a flat wicket, where Laxman was pulling away merrily, Yuvraj was hopping against Rubel Hossain. One bouncer crashed into his neck. He attempted to fight on but suddenly fell, pushing one straight to short cover. His misery was complete when he tore a cartilage in his left wrist and was ruled out of the squad for the first Test against South Africa.
Dhoni gets among the runs
Back problems ruled him out of the first Test and he nearly helped himself to a ton in the second. Bangladesh had tasted some success with bouncers on the second day and tried to test Dhoni with some more on the third day but he was never in any problem. He had ample time to swat them away and nearly got to three figures.
An opportunity lost for Dinesh Karthik
A good batsman but struck down by the tendency to self-destruct. When he walked in at the fall of Yuvraj in the first Test, the score read 149 for 5 and he could have cemented his Test spot with a vital contribution. Instead, he lunged across to the third delivery he faced and played a fatal off-drive, well away from the body. In the second dig, he fell going for some quick runs as India pushed towards a declaration. Considering he contributed to his dismissal at least once in the tri-series as well, it wasn't a surprise when he was replaced for the series against South Africa.
M Vijay spends time in the middle order
He got a chance in the second Test and made a very assured 30 at number five before he threw it away with a mistimed hit to mid-on against Shakib Al Hasan. He made up it with a fine catch in the slips in the second innings. The series against South Africa gives him another opportunity to seize and impress. Will he?

Sriram Veera is a staff writer at Cricinfo