The start of India’s first day-night Test had its share of pomp and flourish. The Chief Minister of West Bengal accompanied the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, along with Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar. Over 40,000 people turned up at Eden Gardens to witness the occasion. But while all this fanfare was quite unlike the build-up for a Test match in India in recent times, little changed on the field. There, Bangladesh fell prey to India’s pace menace yet again, as Ishant Sharma picked up his second five-wicket haul in India. And with half-centuries from Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli, India ended the first day on a commanding note.
The pink ball, subject of much discussion ahead of the game, came into its own during the first session. The ball proved to be skiddier and more ‘swingy’ than its red counterpart. The swing, coming in late in the ball’s path, tested India’s wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha seemingly more than it posed questions to the batsmen. But there was enough of it to keep both the bowlers and batsmen in a mode of understanding. India’s pacers rarely went upwards of 140kph, trying hard to control the movement on offer, and the batsmen were left studying what’s happening.
But through this period of consideration, India produced moments of brilliance. Ishant started it off with a classic ‘one-two’ to trap Imrul Kayes LBW. Umesh Yadav started his second spell with two wickets in his first three balls which included a brilliant one-handed catch by Rohit Sharma at second slip to send back skipper Mominul Haque. Mohammed Mithun and Mushfiqur Rahim were seemingly hurried on by the skiddy nature of the ball and were bowled chopping on, leaving Bangladesh in tatters at 26 for 4. Saha then pouched two more catches, the second of which was a stunning diving one to his right, as Bangladesh slipped from bad to worse.
The session ended on a wary note after Liton Das retiring hurt after showing delayed signs of discomfort after being hit on the helmet by Shami. He was later substituted by Mehidy Hasan. Bangladesh would add just 33 more in the second session before being bowled out. In the twilight period, Shami hit another batsman, Nayeem Hasan (who was later replaced by Taijul Islam) as sighting the ball seemingly became a difficult task. Bangladesh’s tailenders were showing little resolve to get behind the line of the ball in this session and became ideal targets for Ishant’s ploys. Operating with the stumps as target, and getting the ball to move both ways off the surface, Ishant added three quick wickets to finish with 5/22, only his second five-wicket haul on home soil.
India’s reply, coming with the floodlights taking full effect, began on a false note with Mayank Agarwal steering Al-Amin Hossain to gully for 14. His partner, Rohit Sharma, dropped on 12, couldn’t make the reprieve count, adding only nine more before shouldering arms to a delivery nipping back in to be adjudged LBW.
However, Kohli and Pujara steadied India with a confident stand that was studded by some eye-popping drives from the India captain. Pujara too got into his own, with Bangladesh guilty of offering boundary-balls at regular intervals. Their 94-run stand for the third wicket gave India a handy lead before Pujara was muscled out by a rising delivery from Ebadot Hossain.
However, with Kohli remaining unbeaten on 59 at Stumps, India looks well set to gain a sizable advantage in the first innings.
Brief Scores: Bangladesh 106 (Shadman Islam 29; Ishant Sharma 5-22)trail India 174/3 (Virat Kohli 59*, Cheteshwar Pujara 55; Ebadot Hossain 2-61) by 68 runs.