Fatullah (PTI): Shikhar Dhawan hammered a listless Bangladesh bowling attack into submission with a scintillating century as India seized the initiative on a rain-hit opening day, reaching 239 for no loss in the one-off cricket Test, here today.
Making full use of the opportunity that he got due to Sydney Test centurion KL Rahul’s illness, Dhawan dominated the proceedings from the start during his cracking unbeaten innings of 150 off 158 balls comprising 21 delectable boundaries.
He was ably complemented by Murali Vijay, who played a contrasting undefeated innings of 89 off 178 balls as the duo were hardly troubled during the 56 overs bowled in the day which vindicated Virat Kohli’s decision to bat first after winning the toss.
This is also the second time that the Dhawan-Vijay combination posted a double century partnership after their 289-run stand in Mohali back in 2013.
The duo showed positive intent sending the home team bowlers on a leatherhunt — something that Kohli had promised after taking over the mantle from Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
With a slow and flat track on offer, it was an onerous task for Bangladesh’s spin quartet of left-arm spinners.
Shakib Al Hasan (0/34 in 9 overs), Taijul Islam (0/55 in 12 overs) along with leg-spinner Jubair Hossain (0/41 in 7 overs) and off-break bowler Shuvagata Hom (0/47 in 13 overs) failed to stop the Indian openers who faced little difficulty in negotiating the pedestrian attack.
The only chink in Dhawan’s century was just before the rain interruption in the 24th over, when he got a reprieve when Shuvagata dropped a relatively easy catch at short mid- wicket off left-arm spinner Taijul’s bowling. The southpaw was on 73 at that time.
After nearly four hours of rain delay, when play finally resumed, Dhawan started from where he had left off before the break. He found the gaps on the off-side with ease to get into the 80’s as Vijay completed his 50 with a boundary off Shahid.
An inside out cover driven boundary off Taijul took Dhawan into 90’s. After a couple of anxious overs, Dhawan swept Jubair Hossain to bring up his third Test hundred.
Vijay on the other hand, started slowly as barely reached double figures by the time Dhawan had completed his 50. But he picked up as time progressed playing some lovely drives on the up and used his feet to good effect against the spinners.
His composure at the other end was exactly what Dhawan needed to carry on playing his natural game.
The home team’s decision to play with four specialist spinners and a single seamer backfired badly as Dhawan toyed with the bowling. While the short balls from seamer Mohammed Shahid were pulled, the width given by spinners like Shuvagata were cut with a lot of ferocity.
The first boundary of the innings came in the fourth over bowled by Sarkar as Dhawan played a flowing cover drive. Dhawan followed the shot with an off-drive off Mohammed Shahid.
When off-spinner Shuvagata Hom was introduced, the Delhi left-hander hit back-to-back boundaries — first played a cut shot and then played a straight drive.
Having got into the flow, Dhawan rocked back and forcefully cut Shahid past point and then pulled him for good measure to race into the 30s. There was another poor short ball which made Dhawan just rock back and hit past square leg.
With speed in late 120 kmphs, Shahid, after his first two overs, could not hit the desired length as it became cannon fodder for the attacking left-hander. As Dhawan started carting the Bangladesh attack, Vijay played the perfect second fiddle at the other end.
Dhawan reached his third Test fifty when he played a deft late cut off Shuvagata to complete the mini landmark off 47 balls as skipper Virat Kohli and Team Director Ravi Shastri were seen applauding his effort.
Bangladesh’s premier spinner Shakib didn’t look penetrative during his first spell as there were a number of loose balls including a loopy full toss that Vijay dispatched to the boundary.
Leaving out their fastest bowler Rubel Hossain boomeranged as the lone seamer Shahid (0/52) neither had any variation or pace to trouble the duo.
The slowish nature of the track with an odd ball offering occasional turn was not supposed to pose any challenge for the Dhawan-Vijay combination and it didn’t happen that way.
India 1st Innings: 239/0 in 56 overs (Shikhar Dhawan 150 batting, Murali Vijay 89 batting; Shuvagata Hom 0-47).