Backs to the wall and with defeat’s shadow lurking close, Bangladesh opener Tamim Iqbal opted to attack. The Bangladesh opener’s spirited 151 (184b, 13x4, 3x6) helped the host delay India’s pursuit of its fourth consecutive Test triumph.
Tamim helped Bangladesh score 228 for three in its second innings and whittled down the overall deficit from 311 to 83 on the third day of the second Test at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium here on Tuesday.
Walking in to bat immediately after lunch following India’s declaration of its first innings at 544 for eight, Tamim was on over-drive right through his 231-minute stay at the crease. Tamim also found the perfect foil in Junaid Siddiqui’s adhesive 55 (143b, 5x4).
The two left-handers shared a 200-run partnership for the second wicket to hassle the Indian team before Zaheer Khan lured their edges.
Tamim drove through the line and when Zaheer and Ishant Sharma tried to bounce, he kept the ball within his line of vision and hooked without fear. Against the spinners, he strode forward to the pitch of the delivery to either guide it past the off-side or slice his back-lift and pick his spots between square-leg and mid-wicket.
Left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha offered width and the seasoned Harbhajan Singh was not allowed to settle on a pitch with variable bounce while the sparse crowd relished the fightback.
Tamim may have blazed a fiery trail but the start was not smooth. His opening partner Imrul Kayes, popped up a catch off Zaheer. Pinged on to the back-foot by a bouncer, Kayes stayed tentative and a drive that lacked conviction off the next delivery elicited an airborne catch from Dinesh Karthik at cover.
Karthik, along with Amit Mishra, were on the field right through the afternoon as substitutes for the injured duo of Rahul Dravid and Yuvraj Singh.
A history of top-order collapses as obvious from 89/5, 135/5 and 51/5 in the current series and a score of 19 for one meant that India held the edge in the mental sweepstakes against Bangladesh.
Tamim though had his own ideas. “We are no longer in awe,” Tamim had said a day ahead of this match and it was evident in his nonchalance at the crease.
His second Test century that came in 101 deliveries, the fastest by a Bangladesh batsman, was a constant gallop. Even on 96, he gave the charge to a reverse-swinging Zaheer, missed it and continued to exhale with rippling shots. It may have looked like a highlights package but Tamim does have an alert technique.
When a stung Zaheer followed it up with a swerving yorker, Tamim countered with a dead-bat and soon reached his hundred and jumped with delight.
On 137, a miscued heave off Virender Sehwag eluded Sachin Tendulkar’s grasp at mid-on but Tamim could not stay to fight another day as Zaheer drew the fatal prod.
Earlier, resuming at the overnight 459 for five in the morning, India stretched its lead to 311 runs.
Skipper M.S. Dhoni (89, 167b, 9x4, 2x6), with just the tail for company, was a mix of ascetic-restraint and aggressive-intent. He farmed the strike, largely ignored the singles as he did not want to expose the tail and watched Zaheer leave with a miscued hook.
Dhoni defended a few while slipping in his unconventional shots, slap-cutting, hoisting and deflating his counterpart Shakib Al Hasan and Mahmudullah with huge sixes.
Ishant, the skipper’s ally in a valuable 51-run partnership for the seventh-wicket, hung in grimly while an injured Yuvraj Singh, nursing a ligament tear in his left wrist, was seen padded up and prepared to come out to bat in case the tail floundered. Dhoni shepherded India to a sizeable lead but a century proved elusive.
After Ishant poked and left, Dhoni lunged forward to part-timer Raqibul Hasan and got stumped as lunch was called.
During the break, India declared to leave Bangladesh with the onerous task of saving the match and Tamim mocked the challenge and soared.