BAN vs IND 2022-23, 2nd Test: Magnificent Pant, steady Iyer put India in command on Day 2
Rishabh Pant enhanced his reputation as India's biggest game-changer with a scintillating 93 that put the team in a commanding position for a series clean sweep against Bangladesh in Mirpur on Friday.
Rishabh Pant enhanced his reputation as the team's biggest game-changer with a scintillating 93 that put India in a commanding position for a series clean sweep against Bangladesh in Mirpur on Friday.
The cornerstone of India's first innings score of 314 on the second day of the second Test was a counter-attacking knock by Pant, who was out in the 90s for the sixth time in his Test career. Pant once again brought his "A" game to the fore.
Between lunch and tea, Pant, whose 104-ball innings contained seven fours and five enormous sixes, some of them one-handed lofted smashes, transformed the match, which appeared to be in the balance.
Shreyas Iyer, who has been reliable since making his Test debut last year, also batted aggressively, but he was dismissed for 87 off 105 balls, missing out on his second hundred of the series.
India, struggling at 94 for four and would fancy their chances for a fourth-day finish and solidifying their position in the World Test Championship table, will ride the 159-run fifth wicket stand between Pant and Iyer.
Bangladesh was seven for no loss at the end of Day 2's play, trailing by 87 runs. Playing Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel on this track will be a herculean effort, and things won't get any easier for the batters until the third day.
"I love and thrive under challenges. Pressure lifts me. That's the situation I wanted to be in. Pant kept me calm and composed. It was crucial," Iyer said after the day's play.
Asked further about his conversation with Pant, Iyer said, "It wasn't an intense chat. I didn't want to disturb his focus. We tried to communicate with actions. He maintained calm and targeted the right bowlers."
However, by the conclusion of the afternoon session, Pant had completely destroyed the hosts. The morning session belonged to Bangladesh's left-arm spinner Taijul Islam (4/74), who rocked the top-order by dismissing captain KL Rahul (10), Shubman Gill (20), and Cheteshwar Pujara (24).
It only benefited Iyer, who was as aggressive at the other end, and a surface that initially seemed challenging to bat on quickly transformed into a willow player's heaven.
By hitting five sixes—two off Taijul, two off Mehidy Hasan Miraz, and one off captain Shakib Al Hasan—Pant destroyed the Bangladeshi spin trio.
When Virat Kohli (24, 73 balls) once more scraped one off Taskin Ahmed outside the off-stump channel before Pant accelerated the Indian innings, the visitors were in trouble at 94 for four. However, the unconventional keeper-batter from Roorkee made Taijul appear uninteresting.
Taijul was repeatedly cartwheeled by Pant either in the arc between the mid-wicket and long-on or by lofting him down the pitch, forcing Taijul to submit.
The most thrilling one was a one-handed down-the-ground shot by the opposing team's captain, Shakib. And when he replicated the material from Miraz over long-on for a maximum distance of 100 metres, it was not surprising.
When tea was announced, the Bangladeshi bowlers, who had been revved up throughout lunch, had slumped shoulders.
Iyer caught Miraz lofted for his first six, and he dutifully finished up his second half-century of the series with a single to complete Pant's beast mode. Pant was completely exhausted when he nicked one to Nurul Hasan behind the stumps, losing out on yet another Test hundred, and he didn't come out to keep after getting cramps.
Rahul already suffered the price for his overly conservative approach on a pitch that offered a fair amount of turn on the first day after misreading the track on day one. Except for the cover-driven boundary off a seamer early in the day, he never seemed at ease during his 45-ball spell.
While Taijul kept his deliveries on a solid length and bowled with a nice trajectory, Gill appeared more confident. Rahul was caught by a delivery that resembled armour since it arrived at an angle but straightened out sufficiently to trap him in front of the wickets. The umpire initially rejected the LBW claim, but after Bangladesh requested a DRS review, the decision was changed in their favour.
It was a simpler choice in Gill's situation as he was caught off guard after missing a straighter one while attempting a sweep stroke. Pujara appeared confident until he reached the wicket, but because the deliveries were pausing and turning, there was always a chance that he might negotiate a ball that would send him back.
(With inputs from PTI)