Gambhir Slams Ton, India Sniff Victory
Gautam Gambhir struck his fifth consecutive Test hundred as India pinned Bangladesh on the mat to finish day four of the first cricket Test eight wickets away from a comprehensive win on Wednesday in Chittagong.
Overnight batsman Gautam Gambhir (116) became only the fourth batsman to hit five consecutive Test hundreds, nightwatchman Amit Mishra (50) struck his maiden fifty and VVS Laxman remained unbeaten after a fluent 69 as India put behind their first innings flop show and declared their second essay at 413 for eight.
Chasing a 415-run target for an improbable win, Bangladesh had been reduced to 67 for two at stumps with Tamim Iqbal (23) and Mohammad Ashraful (16) in the middle.
Gambhir's 129-ball knock, studded with 10 fours and a six, put him in the same league with Mohammad Yousuf and Jacques Kallis, both of whom had hit five consecutive Test tons.
The in-form Delhi left-hander would fancy his chances of equalling Don Bradman's feat of six consecutive Test centuries when India meet the hosts for the second match starting Sunday in Dhaka.
The highest score Bangladesh has ever managed in the fourth innings was 413 all out in December 2008 against Sri Lanka for a lost cause.
Chasing 415, Bangladesh started on a positive note knocking around the deliveries and scoring at a decent rate.
But the hosts soon found themselves in the dock with pacer Zaheer Khan removing opener Imrul Kayes (1) cheaply in the third over to leave the home side at eight for one.
Two overs later, India could have claimed the second wicket but Laxman dropped Nafees at second slip when the batsman was on five. Laxman dropped Nafees for the second time when the batsman was on 15, Zaheer being the unfortunate bowler on both occasions.
Tamim Iqbal and Nafees defied the Indian bowlers for nearly an hour before the second wicket fell. Pacer Ishant Sharma, who was generating a good pace, made Nafees defend without any footwork and the edge flew to Virender Sehwag who took a low catch at gully diving to his right.
Zaheer Khan and Ishant took one wicket each by conceding 34 and seven runs respectively.
Earlier, the Indian innings revolved around the sparkling 116 from Gautam Gambhir, his ninth Test century, while Laxman and Amit Mishra helped themselves to easy fifties.
Gambhir shared a 98-run stand for the second wicket with Mishra from 21.4 overs to set the tempo for the day which started 45 minutes late due to foggy conditions.
Mishra did a commendable job by contributing 50 from 70 balls, his maiden Test fifty, which included six boundaries.
India scored at a brisk pace, scoring 137 runs from 31.4 overs in the morning and 125 from 27 post-lunch session.
The visitors added 29 runs from the six overs they batted after tea with the loss of one wicket that of Zaheer Khan, who scored a 17-ball 20 which had three fours in it.
For Bangladesh, who failed to contain the Indian batsmen throughout the day, Mahmadullah Riad took two wickets today while captain and left-arm spinner Shakib Al Hasan claimed one to add to the one he had yesterday.
Debutant Shafiul Islam and his pace colleagues Shahadat Hossain and Rubel Hossain took one wicket each.
In the post-lunch session, India could not stitch any big partnership but still found the runs at a brisk pace.
First innings centurion, Sachin Tendulkar (16) punished pacer Rubel Hossain for two boundaries in the second over after lunch but the bowler had the last laugh, trapping the star batsman in his next over.
Yuvraj Singh (25), who came in at the fall of Tendulkar, and Laxman ran mostly in singles with occasional four and took India to 300 inside the first hour of the post-lunch session in front of barely 3,000 spectators.
Just after the post-lunch drinks break, Yuvraj fell to Shahadat Hossain while Dinesh Karthik (27), who was out for a duck in the first innings, perished just before tea break while trying to score some quick runs.
Karthik shared a 49-run stand for the seventh wicket with Laxman from 11 overs. PTI