Shreyas Iyer, Cheteshwar Pujara consolidate for India but spinners keep Bangladesh ahead on day 1 of Chattogram Test
A resolute 90 (203 balls, 11 fours) from Cheteshwar Pujara and unbeaten 82 (169 balls, 10 fours) from Shreyas Iyer rescued India on the first day of their opening Test against Bangladesh at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chattogram on Wednesday, with the home team chipping away with wickets in heaps to restrict the visiting side and the series favourites at 278/6 at stumps.
Cheteshwar Pujara and Shreyas Iyer added 149 runs for the fifth wicket to help India bounce back from a poor start to the Test series after a long run of limited-overs cricket — which also included their 2-1 loss at the hands of Bangladesh in the recently-concluded ODI series.
Looking to bat aggressively and make a statement of their own, India were off to a poor start losing KL Rahul (22), Shubman Gill (20) and Virat Kohli (1) and were left reeling at 48/3 halfway through the first session, before they were bolstered by a whirlwind knock from wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant.
India’s stand-in captain KL Rahul chipped one on to his wickets to be dismissed for a 54 ball 22 while the young Shubman Gill was the first to be dismissed in the innings, caught by Yasir Ali off Taijul Islam, who turned out to be the standout bowler for Bangladesh on the opening day of this Test.
Taijul Islam was a busy man on Wednesday sending down 30 overs on his own, returning with 3/84 as Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan showed more dependency on him than any other bowler, including himself.
The left-arm spinner went down to remove the former India captain Virat Kohli soon, trapping him in front of the wickets for a successful before which was challenged by the batsman. Virat Kohli, who came into this Test having cracked a quickfire 72nd international ton in the third ODI, lasted only 5 balls on Wednesday.
With India on the back foot at 48/3, the aggressive Rishabh Pant took matters in his hands and produced a counter-attacking innings in which he raced to 46 off just 45 balls with 6 boundaries and 2 sixes, before Mehedi Hasan Miraz had him playing one on to his wickets.
The dismissal of Rishabh Pant left India struggling at 112/4 and in need of consolidation in the middle, which was delivered by the pair of Cheteshwar Pujara and Shreyas Iyer. The two right-handed batsmen played with responsibility and did not look to try anything beyond the conventional, kept rotating the strike and punishing the poor balls for boundaries in their bid to rebuild the innings for India.
The right-handed middle order mainstay Cheteshwar Pujara brought up his 33rd half-century in the format and looked set for a deserving century, but late in the day, Taijul Islam beat the India No 3 in flight and turn, spinning one past his bat to beat his defence as the ball crashed into the off-stump.
And before the partnership for the fifth wicket was broken, Shreyas Iyer survived a close shave when a delivery from Ebadot Hossain kept lower than expected and hit the off-stump but the Zing bail did not come off the wickets — which meant the players had to go back to the game with smiles on their faces and the Indian batsman getting a lifeline en route his second century in the format.