India dominates with Agarwal’s monumental innings


Powered by a career-best near-flawless knock of 243 by opener Mayank Agarwal, India on Friday took a firm grip of the first Test against Bangladesh on the second day at the Holkar Cricket Stadium in Indore.

At stumps on day 2, India raced to 493 for six in 114 overs in their first innings establishing a decisive lead of 343 runs in response to Bangladesh’s 150 all out.

An enterprising and unbeaten innings by No.8 batsman Umesh Yadav, worth 25 runs off only 10 runs, helped India finish the day with a flourish, with the home team collecting 190 runs in the 30-over final session when the home side continued brisk scoring that began soon after Mayank’s dismissal. 

Mayank’s splendid knock, which came off 330 balls was in keeping with his sublime form in recent months. This was his second double ton in the last five innings. As he walked out of the ground after falling to a catch by Abu Jayed off the bowling of spinner Mehidy Hasan Miraj, he was given a standing ovation by spectators and all Bangladeshi players.  

Mayank reached his double ton when he lofted Mehidy, who tossed the ball up, for a six into the stands over wide long-on. With the landmark reached, Mayank immediately gestured at Kohli who had asked him of the same earlier in the day. In all, Mayank’s knock was studded with 28 fours and eight sixes, which equal the Indian record of most sixes in a test innings set by Navjot Singh Sidhu.

Mayank earlier in the day survived a DRS review when he went for a sweep and the ball turned to hit his pad, and on-field umpire Erasmus gave him out. The third umpire declared Mayank not out.

India dominated much of the second day in no uncertain terms barring a brief period in the first session when paceman Jayed, undoubtedly the best of Bangladesh bowlers in this test, claimed two crucial wickets of Cheteshwar Pujara and skipper Virat Kohli in two successive overs.

After getting the wicket of opener Rohit Sharma on Thursday, Jayed bowled his heart out, picked up four of the five Indian wickets that fell on Friday and has waged a lone battle so far with very little support from the other end. Jayed richly deserved each and every single wicket and ended up with the figures of 4 for 108.

India resumed their first innings with the same energy and vigour with which Mayank and test vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane left the field at close of play on Thursday, quickly wiping out the deficit of the first innings score of Bangladesh and take lead.  

Mayank looked to be in the zone right from the word go on day 2 and took charge of proceedings against the Bangladesh pacers. Along with Pujara, he got off to a fast start and continued to bat at a fair clip through the day.

After a jittery start, Mayank thumped Jayed to the extra cover fence and then marched down the pitch to drive one straight past the bowler and then lofted Mehidy over the bowler's head to clear the ropes comfortably bringing up the first six of the Indian innings. A clear statement of intent that the world’s no one test team would not be cornered.

Jayed was finally rewarded for a long morning spell with two wickets—those of Pujara and the most valuable wicket of Kohli.

Jayed was earlier unlucky when Pujara went for an uncharacteristic slash in the second over of the day: the ball going through Mehidy's fingertips for four and bringing up up his fifty off 68 balls.

But when Jayed forced Pujara to chase one fuller length ball outside the off stump for a drive, the batsman was caught at a rather wide slip. It was surprising that Bangladeshi bowlers did not bowl fuller length balls more often because this type of delivery dismissed Rohit Sharma on Thursday.

In his next over, Jayed struck again by removing Kohli for a two-ball duck. The ball jagged in by some distance and hit the Indian captain on the pad, plunging the Holkar Stadium into an eerie silence as Kohli walked back to the pavilion. This was Kohli’s tenth zero in 83 tests. Jayed made sure the opening hour of the second day’s play belonged to Bangladesh.

However, Mayank and Rahane kept Bangladesh at bay after the exit of Kohli and Pujara and ensured the scaled tipped back in India’s favour. Mayank got to his fifty with two back-to-back boundaries. Both Mayank and Rahane gave a fine example of sound temperament as they buckled down and put away the strokes for a brief moment before beginning to unleash strokes.

India added 102 in 28 overs in the first session. Despite losing Pujara and Kohli early in the day, they did not slowdown. Mayank played some delectable strokes, including a four over mid-off and a straight six off Mehidy. He also managed to overturn an LBW call off Mehidy.

A single off Taijul Islam past cover took Rahane to his 4,000th test run and made him he 16th Indian to reach there. This is his 62nd test and 104th innings.

Bangladesh opted for the second new ball ten minutes before tea but it was an expensive start with the new ball.

Post-tea, Rahane fell for 86 as Jayed sent a ball outside off that was waiting to be hit. But skipper Mominul Haque had posted Taijul on the point boundary. Rahane cleared the infield but holed out to the spinner.

A timely partnership worth 190 runs between Mayank and Rahane (86) helped India recover from 119/3 after they lost Pujara (54) and Kohli (0). Rahane brought up his third consecutive test 50 (after 59 and 115 against South Africa), helping Mayank blunt the Bangladesh attack, particularly the spinners, who sent down 55 overs before they could claim a wicket.

Post-tea, Jayed returned to bag his fourth, removing Rahane who slashed hard at a wide one, ending up giving a catch down to deep point. Mayank, then on 158, intensified his charge, moving past 200 in the next 46 balls, with Bangladesh’s spinners guilty of bowling too short or too full.

Ravindra Jadeja, playing second fiddle to Mayank’s authoritative stroke-play, brought up the team’s 400 with a signature hit over deep midwicket.

After crossing his double hundred, Mayank struck four more sixes, before becoming India's first dismissal to Bangladesh spin. A big shot off Mehidy delivery fell into the hands of a diving Jayed. But by then, India had comfortably crossed 400.

Jadeja (60 not out) kept one end busy taking India race past 300 with his 14th test fifty but Bangladesh managed to make another late breakthrough, with Ebadot Hossain's full delivery cleaning up the stumps of wicket-keeper Wriddhiman Saha who made 12.