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BAN vs IND 2022-23, 1st Test: Axar Patel brings India closer to success, social media joyed

BAN vs IND 2022-23: India has taken the fight to pile pressure on Bangladesh in the opening Chittagong Test on Day 4 on Saturday. Meanwhile, Axar Patel has allowed India to inch closer to triumph.

BAN vs IND 2022-23, Chittagong/1st Test: Axar Patel brings India closer to success against Bangladesh, social media joyed-ayh
First Published Dec 17, 2022, 5:15 PM IST

Seasoned leg-spinner Axar Patel upped the ante with a triple strike just when it mattered. The Indian bowlers compensated for an insipid first session by reducing Bangladesh to 272 for 6, closing in on a big victory on the fourth day of the opening Test at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chittagong on Saturday. Debutant Zakir Hasan (100 off 224 balls) showed a lot of character, scoring a patient hundred but saving the Test match by batting out for nearly 180 overs in two days was always going to be an uphill task, as also chasing a target of 513.

Bangladesh needs another 241 runs on Sunday's final day, but skipper Shakib Al Hasan (40 batting) could be keener on delaying the inevitable. While Zakir and his young opening partner Najmul Hossain Shanto (67, 156 balls) frustrated the Indian bowlers for an entire session and added a record 124 for the first wicket, the visitors pulled back things in the second session to regain control of the proceedings.

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Axar (27-10-50-3), who had a dream Test debut against England at home in 2021, had his best performance in a short career in the longest format, considering that the fourth-day wicket didn't have a lot of help for spinners. The Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury track didn't show considerable wear and tear, and surviving wasn't difficult, with only a few deliveries turning appreciably.

Three batters -- Yasir Ali (5), Mushfiqur Rahim (23) and Nurul Hasan (3) -- preempted Axar's deliveries and made a fatal mistake. Yasir and Mushfiqur didn't cover their off-stump line expecting arm balls, but it turned enough after pitching, pegging the off-stump back on both occasions. The only difference was that Yasir plonked his front foot while Mushfiqur went on his back foot.

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In the case of Nurul, Axar gave the ball extra flight, and the batter was beaten for the turn as he tried to convert it into a half-volley, and Rishabh Pant effected a smart stumping. Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin (27-2-76-1) wasn't at his best in this game, but he would certainly feel happy to see the back of Zakir caught by a diving Virat Kohli at first slip. The batter's defensive prod got an inside edge onto the pads and popped up for Kohi to lunge in front.

Chinaman spinner Kuldeep Yadav (18-2-69-1) also did his bit by prodding a fidgety Litton Das to try and loft him over mid-on, but the batter couldn't check his half-scoop and half-drive, offering an easy catch to pacer Umesh Yadav. But, no credit is enough for young Zakir, who showed admirable temperament while playing a defensive game in his first Test and hitting those boundaries -- 13 in all, along with a six during his innings.

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Till the southpaw got out, none of the Indian bowlers, save Umesh during a post-lunch spell with old Kookaburra, could trouble Zakir. Umesh (15-3-27-1), in the post-lunch session, bowled a beautiful stretch with the old Kookaburra, getting the odd ball to reverse. Some of the deliveries that Zakir decided to leave on length could have hit the off-stump, but he was lucky.

In fact, Umesh also drew the first blood after a record opening stand between Zakir and Shanto. Umesh ended Shanto's 156-ball resilience with a fuller delivery outside the off-stump and found the left-handed opener poking at it indecisively. Shanto could have still been lucky as the ball popped out of first slip fielder Kohli's grasp, but Pant dived full stretch to his left and caught it on the second attempt.

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The second session was essential for India as it yielded only 52 runs and the three wickets dented any dreams of an upset the Bangladesh team could have harboured. In the first session, though, Zakir and Shanto batted with many purposes as their gritty half-centuries helped Bangladesh reach 119 for no loss by lunch.

The two left-handers showed a lot more application on a track which looked good for batting. Incidentally, the century-plus stand between Zakir and Shanto was the highest by any opening pair against India in Test matches.

(With inputs from PTI)

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