India 278/6 (Pujara 90, Iyer 82*, Taijul 3-84, Mehdi 2-71) Vs. Bangladesh
At one point, India were struggling at 48 for 3, but first Pujara and Rishabh Pant, and then Pujara and Iyer stitched crucial partnerships to help them reach 278 for 6 at stumps. Pujara fell ten short of his maiden Test hundred since January 2019, while Iyer scored an unbeaten 82.
Both Pujara and Iyer also got the benefit of dropping catches. Pujara was on 12 when Nurul Hasan dismissed him off the bowling of Abadot Hossain. It was the second ball after lunch when Pujara bowled a full ball and edged it to the wicketkeeper’s right. However, Nurul could not retain this opportunity.
Iyer got two reliefs. On 30, Nurul gave a chance to Shakib Al Hasan. Then on 67, Ebadot took a straight catch at deep midwicket, Mehdi Hasan Miraj this time being the unfortunate bowler.
Iyer got another stroke of luck on 77. Abdot’s Indkar beat his inside edge and brushed the off-stump but the bails did not move.
When India elected to bat in the morning, Bangladesh captain Shakib was hopeful that the grass cover would help his fast bowlers take quick wickets. But the pitch offered little help to the fast bowlers, forcing Shakib to bring himself on in the sixth over itself.
Bangladesh pacers Ebadot and Khalid Ahmed hardly helped their cause by bowling a few fulls. A few balls fell low but all of them were well off. Shakib tried to play along the field several times, using leg slip, catching short midwicket and catching cover, but to no avail.
It was Taizul Islam who finally broke down. On the stroke of the first hour, Shubman Gill tried to lap-sweep him but the ball just fell on him, hitting a top edge. Yasir Ali, anticipating the shot, ran to his left from first slip and swallowed it.
KL Rahul fell soon after and cut Khalid onto his stumps. In the next over, Virat Kohli came back at a length ball from Taijul, which turned to his outside edge and got him out lbw as he tried to nudge the ball down the leg side. This meant that India, who looked to be in complete control at 41 without loss, were suddenly in trouble.
Pujara and Pant rescued them while batting in their opposite style. They added 64 runs in just 72 balls for the fourth wicket, after which Mehdi broke his stand. After being hit for a six off the previous ball, his 50th in Test cricket, Pant returned in an attempt to take Mehidy behind point. The ball though kept coming in with the arm to cramp him. The result was a bottom edge that bounced off the pitch to remove the off bail, and Pant walked back to score 46 off 45 balls.
Iyer started tentatively, hitting his first ball, against Mehidy, past the slip fielder. Then Abadot smashed both his balls in a single over. But as the innings progressed, he seemed more and more comfortable and was not afraid to take aerial routes against the spinners.
Pujara, meanwhile, regularly used his feet against the spinners to leave the track, even if he didn’t look in complete control at all times. He brought up his half-century with a four off Taijul and celebrated the occasion by hitting another four off the next ball. Iyer follows it to the landmark, that too with a boundary.
With both batsmen looking set for their hundreds, Bangladesh took the new ball as soon as it became available. And with that came success. Taijul, who had beaten the outside edge of both Pujara and Iyer several times, finally got his reward when he got one more to spin Pujara’s outside edge. This time the ball pinged the off stump to end the 149-run partnership.
Axar Patel survived a bat-pad appeal when Bangladesh did not opt for the review, but replays showed a clear inside edge. This did not deter Bangladesh however, and Mehdi dismissed them lbw on the last ball of the day to keep their side in the contest.
Hemant Brar is the Deputy Editor at ESPNcricinfo