By Qaiser Mohammad Ali
Dhaka : Wasim Jaffer overcame the forgetful performance in the first match to score his fourth century and provide India a solid start to the second Test against Bangladesh here Friday.
Jaffer had failed to score a single run in Chittagong, but he made amends on a benign pitch to score 138 (239 balls, 372 minutes, 17x4s) before retiring due to cramps and nausea.
At close, India were 326 without loss on a day their batsmen dominated the rival bowling attack. Captain Rahul Dravid was nearing his 24th century (88 batting, 131 balls, 11x4s) and Sachin Tendulkar was getting into the groove (9 batting, 31 balls).
Dinesh Karthik made his fourth half-century (82, 153 balls, 237 minutes, 12x4s) before the heat and humidity became too much for him after a four-hour stint at the crease. If he completes his century Saturday it would be his maiden century in his 13th Test.
It's unique that four batsmen have batted but no wicket has fallen.
Bangladesh captain Habibul Bashar must be ruing his decision to ask India to take the first strike after winning the toss at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium, which is hosting its first Test match.
Coach Dave Whatmore later admitted that Bangladesh misread the wicket as they had expected it to offer some bounce.
The grassless pitch turned out to be a perfect one for batting. But there is nothing for the bowlers, whose job became tougher due to the harsh weather conditions.
It had rained heavily Thursday evening that led to the high humidity. The good amount of sand used in the stadium outfield was a contributory factor.
That is not to take anything away from the knocks of Jaffer, Dravid and Karthik.
This is Jaffer's second century in five innings. His previous century had come against South Africa in January. But he must be under pressure after failing to score in both innings of the first Test this week.
On Friday, however, the right-hander looked confident from the start, and soon he and Karthik were in the scoring mode.
Kartik got an early 'life' when he was dropped by Sakibul Hasan at second slip off left-arm pacer Syed Rasel in the innings' eighth over. He was on 10 and the team total was without loss.
The Tamil Nadu batsman got over the mistake and settled down to reach his fifth half-century off 109 balls. But he again got a reprieve at 74 when he slashed wildly at a wide delivery from Mohammad Sharif, recalled to the Test side after five years, and wicket-keeper Khaled Mashud grabbed the ball.
There was a confident appeal by the Bangladeshi fielders, but the Australian umpire Daryl Harper felt that Karthik had not edged the ball. Television action replays showed that he had indeed got a faint touch with the bat.
Earlier, Jaffer had also got a reprieve, off the very second ball after the lunch break. Left-arm spinner Mohammad Rafique dropped a simple catch off his own bowling when the Mumbai batsman was at 42 (69 without loss).
Karthik did not come out to bat after tea interval due to cramps. He and Jaffer scored 175 for the unbroken opening wicket, and established a new record for all countries against Bangladesh.
The previous record of 168 was set by Pakistan's Saeed Anwar and Taufeeq Umar in Multan in an Asian Test Championship match in Multan in 2001.
Jaffer had Dravid as his new partner. Both gelled well and ran their runs with understanding. They added 106 before Jaffer retired to the dressing room, apparently due to exhaustion.
Tendulkar took his Mumbai teammate Jaffer's place, and he and Dravid continued in the same vein as the earlier batsmen.
Towards the close of play, Dravid hit the lone six of the day when he lofted Mohammad Ashraful for a straight six.
Frustrated, pacer Mashrafe Mortaza peppered Dravid and Tendulkar with short-pitched balls but the batsmen negotiated with them well.
In the morning, India gave a Test cap to lanky Delhi pacer Ishant Sharma. He replaced Vikram Raj Vir Singh for the only change in the XI that played in Chittagong.
Bangladesh made two changes, bringing in Sharif for Enamul Haque (junior) and Syed Rasel for Shahadat Hossain, who had body ache and flu.
This is the first Test at this stadium, and all previous matches in Dhaka – 17 Tests and 58 One-day Internationals – were held at the Bangabandhu Stadium.
First Day, Second Test, India vs. Bangladesh,
Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium, Mirpur, Dhaka
India (1st innings):
Dinesh Karthik retired hurt 82
Wasim Jaffer retired hurt 138
Rahul Dravid batting 88
Sachin Tendulkar batting 9
Extras: (leg byes 4, no balls 4, wide 1)
Total: (for no loss in 90 overs) 326
Mashrafe Mortaza 19.4-4-49-0 (nb 1, w 1)
Syed Rasel 13.4-0-64-0 (nb 1)
Mohammad Sharif 13.4-0-56-0 (nb 1)
Mohammad Rafique 22-2-85-0
Shakibul Hasan 13-1-33-0
Mohammad Ashraful 8-0-35-0
Umpires: Daryl Harper (Australia) and Billy Doctrove
TV umpire: Nadir Shah (Bangladesh)
Reserve umpire: Monzur Rahman (Bangladesh)
Match referee: Roshan Mahanama (Sri Lanka)