By Qaiser Mohammad Ali
Dhaka : Their decisive Test and One-day International (ODI) triumphs over Bangladesh proved India were far superior in all departments and that their World Cup defeat to them was just one bad day in office.
India thus avenged the World Cup humiliation, which contributed to their first-round exit, by winning the one-day series 2-0 and clinching the Test series 1-0 here Sunday. It is however a mater of conjecture that had rains not interfered the competition level would have been higher.
It was the first international engagement for both countries after the World Cup. Although Dravid did not say that it would be a revenge series, the World Cup defeat must have rankled. And this feeling eventually came to the fore after India registered their victory with the biggest margin ever – by an innings and 239 runs – in the second Test here Sunday.
"For us, in some ways it was a lose-lose situation, wasn't it? Had we not done well, people would have said 'what's happening'. Had we won, it's not a big deal. So, it was tough in that sense," captain Rahul Dravid said, putting things in perspective.
"I don't get excited by most situations. My belief is to keep things in perspective whether it is victory or defeat. We will take some heart from this win, some positives," he said rather philosophically.
Whether he admits it or not, Dravid must have been one of the few men who would have wanted to quickly wipe out the stunning first-round exit from the World Cup. The other was Greg Chappell, who was the team coach them.
While Chappell has gone after completing his four-year contract, Dravid was retained captain for this series as well as the upcoming tour of England starting next month. So he might have had a point to prove on this tour.
The tour of Bangladesh started with a one-day international series. Although the rains badly affected the series – the third match in Chittagong was washed out completely – India proved a far superior team by winning the first two matches at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium here.
In the two-match Test series Bangladesh were no match to India. The Indian batting came good against a none-too-strong bowling, and Indian bowlers easily decimated the home batsmen.
Individually, Sachin Tendulkar found his form and rhythm to score two centuries in as many Tests. The Indian batsmen set several records against a limited bowling attack that is too reliant on its spinners. He finished with 254 runs at 127.00 to be adjudged the Man of the Series.
The Indian batting was at its peak during the second Test here, after rains had forced a draw in the first match in the port city of Chittagong.
In the lone innings, Wasim Jaffer (138), Dravid (129), Dinesh Karthik (129), and Tendulkar (122) hit tons to set an unprecedented record of the top four batsmen hammering centuries. India piled up 610 for three wickets.
The total proved too much for Bangladesh batsmen, and they got out playing indiscreet and, at times, reckless shots. They clearly lacked temperament, such an integral aspect of five-day Test cricket.
Bangladesh vice-captain Mohammad Ashraful was in so much hurry in the second innings that he ended up scoring the all-time fastest Test half-century in terms of time taken (27 minutes).
That Bangladesh captain Habibul Bashar was woefully out of form during the entire series made India's task somewhat easier. He managed just 46 runs in two Tests and 43 in two ODIs.
So, there was little surprise when he announced at the end of the series that he was quitting the ODI captaincy while being available as a player.
In the bowling department, India's left-arm pacers Zaheer Khan and Rudra Pratap Singh came good besides the spinners. Both have been out of the team in recent times for different reasons, but they grabbed this opportunity to establish themselves again.
Dravid described Singh's bowling as a "revelation" while Khan emerged as the top wicket taker in the Test series with eight scalps at 21.87. Singh took six wickets at 21.66. He could have taken a few more wickets had not the fielders dropped the catches.
For Bangladesh, Mashrafe Mortaza and Mohammad Rafique took six wickets each.