Sublime Kohli, lethal Ishant push India closer to big win

Indian bowler Ishant Sharma celebrates with teammates. Photo: PTI

Virat Kohli conjured up a classic hundred in his first tryst with the pink ball while a lethal Ishant Sharma tormented Bangladesh batsmen yet again to push India towards victory in their maiden day/night Test, on Saturday (November 23).

Mostly offering a straight bat to dispatch the swinging pink cherry in the V region, Kohli became the first Indian to score a hundred in a day/night Test, treating the fans with a 136-run knock after starting the day at overnight 59.

His deputy Ajinkya Rahane (51) too looked in good touch, striking his fourth successive half-century as India declared their first innings at 347 for nine for a massive 241-run lead.

Bangladesh, who were shot out for 106 in their first essay, were reduced to 13 for four at one stage but the visitors ended the second day at 152 for six, courtesy a combative half-century from Mushfique Rahim (59 batting) and Mahmudullah, who retired hurt after scoring 39.

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Mushfiqur smashed 10 fours in his counter-attacking knock as the visitors looked relieved when the Indian pacers struggled to handle heavy dew towards the end. They still trail by 89 runs and need a miracle to save the match.

Indian Skipper Virat Kohli acknowledges the crowd after scoring a century on the second day of the 1st pink-ball day/night cricket test match between India and Bangladesh, at Eden Gardens in Kolkata, Saturday. Photo: PTI

On 59, Mushfiqur successfully reviewed an lbw decision given by Marais Erasmus as the ball deflected from his glove before hitting the pad in the fag end of the day.

Mahmudullah matched the senior pro but had to walk off due to a hamstring issue after they added 69 runs for the fourth wicket.

Paceman Ishant, who took a five-for in the first innings, blew away the top-order with a three-wicket burst and later added wicket of Mehidy Hasan to be one wicket away from his second 10-wicket haul in a Test match.

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Umesh Yadav dismissed Taijul Islam (11) with a short ball in the last over of the day. Ashwin was introduced for the first time in the match and he almost gave a breakthrough in his fourth ball but Rahane dropped Mehidy Hasan at the slip.

Mohammed Mithun became the third Bangladeshi player to be hit on his head when he failed to duck an Ishant bouncer. Already two of their batsmen (Liton Das and Nayeem Hasan) were hit by Mohammed Shami bouncers in the first innings and were replaced according to the concussion protocol.

Bangladesh batsman Mahmudullah plays a shot during the 2nd day of 1st day-night pink ball Test match between India and Bangladesh, at Eden Garden in Kolkata, Saturday. Photo: PTI

India started off the second innings with an intimidating slip cordon in four slips and a gully. Ishant gave the breakthrough in the fifth ball, trapping Shadman Islam before Bangladesh could open their account.

The gangly paceman returned and sent by rival skipper Mominul Haque, who edged one behind without bothering the scorer.

Earlier, resuming at 59, skipper Kohli looked at his sublime best as he brought up his 27th Test century. He pushed Taijul Islam for a double in the square leg region to bring up his hundred.

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Rahane was done in by some extra bounce as he top-edged a Taijul delivery to be holed out at the point. But Kohli, who had become the first Indian skipper to go past the 5000-run mark in the longest format, grew from strength to strength en route to his 70th International hundred.

Kohli hit top gear after his hundred, smashing Bangladeshi pacer Abu Jayed for four successive boundaries. His knock, which had 18 boundaries, ended when Taijul threw himself to his right to pluck a catch out of thin air.

With this century, Kohli equalled Ricky Ponting’s record of most hundreds — 41 — as captain in International cricket (Tests/ODI/T20I). The India skipper took exactly half the innings (188) than the Aussie great for the world record.

Kohli had come to the crease under lights with India in a tricky 43/2 inside 13 overs on a day Indian openers had a rare failure. Kohli’s last ton here had come against Sri Lanka on November 2017.

Bangladesh’s ground fielding looked appalling while their bowlers absolutely did not show any fight in a damp squib to the pre-match hype for the first pink ball Test in India.