Pant, Iyer’s quickfire 159 run stand puts India in strong position

Dhaka, Dec 23 (BD Naraayannkar) Both Rishabh Pant and Shreyas Iyer, who missed their centuries, helped India to get a crucial first innings lead of 87 runs, after they put on a dynamic counter-attacking partnership of 159 runs for the fifth wicket on Day 2 of the second Test against Bangladesh at Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium here on Friday. At the close of play, Bangladeshi openers Najmul Hossain Shanto and Zakir Hasan, remained unconquered after battling out the ticklish phase of the day.

However they have a difficult task at their hands when they resume on Day 3 with the team’s score reading 7 for no loss. India hold the aces at present as they still have a handy 80-run lead on a track that is keeping low and odd balls snorting up, making life difficult for batsmen. The Indian top order could not do much against left-arm finger spinner Taijul Islam whose incisive morning spell put them on the backfoot. During the middle session, India lost just one wicket of Virat Kohli and mustered up 140 runs in 25 overs. These runs came under precarious circumstances. Kohli walked back to the pavilion after poking at a Taskin Ahmed’s outside off delivery with India’s score reading 94/4. That’s when Iyer (87) joined Pant (93). They played aggressively enough to put their team in a formidable position. Pant used his feet boldly against the spinners to put them under pressure. Iyer had a couple of reprieves, but that was not enough to stop him from playing his shots.

As they were going about in top gear, the hosts could not find a way to keep them under check, and soon India trailed by just a run at tea. Bangladesh fought back after tea as India lost their last six wickets for just 61 runs. Spinners Shakib Al Hasan and Taijul Islam ran through the lower order who threw their bats around a bit to get the lead to 87 runs. They were the standout bowlers for Bangladesh as they took four wickets each, while Taskin Ahmed’s (1/58) spell just after lunch was also laudable. Earlier, Bangladesh were the happier side going into lunch as they bagged three wickets in the session. The Indian openers were defensive as runs were difficult to come due to some disciplined bowling by the hosts. KL Rahul (10) and Shubman Gill (20) departed early, however, Cheteshwar Pujara (24) and Kohli (24) stitched an useful partnership thereafter. Just when they were looking set, Taijul sent back Pujara as Mominul Haque took a sharp catch at forward short-leg. Taijul and Shakib Al Hasan bowled some tidy overs in tandem, kept the lid on scoring, and both picked up four wickets each. Brief scores: Bangladesh 227 & 7/0, trail India 314 (Rishabh Pant 93, Shreyas Iyer 87; Taijul Islam 4-75, Shakib al Hasan 4-79) by 80 runs.