2nd Test, Day 4: Ashwin, Iyer stitch unbeaten 71-run stand, steer India to series win over Bangladesh (Ld)

Dhaka : A magnificent unbeaten 71-run partnership off 105 balls between Ravichandran Ashwin and Shreyas Iyer took India out from jaws to defeat and steered the visitors’ to a three-wicket victory over Bangladesh in the second Test at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium on Sunday.

On day four, India were needing 100 runs with six wickets in hand. But Shakib Al Hasan and Mehidy Hasan Miraz took three wickets in the first hour to leave India in spot of bother at 74/7. The wicket-taking balls from Bangladesh were on straighter deliveries at a pitch which was offering huge assistance to spinners, making life difficult for India.

But Ashwin and Iyer, India’s last-recognised batting pair, defended solidly, mixed caution with aggression and then brought out a flurry of boundaries at the end to take the visitors’ over the line.

In a cracking finish at Dhaka, the Ashwin-Iyer partnership lasted 17.3 overs and scored at a run-rate of 4.05. In securing a 2-0 series sweep, Ashwin was unbeaten on 42, while Iyer was 29 not out for India to complete a chase of 145 in 46 overs.

Resuming from 45/4, India almost lost Jaydev Unadkat when Mehidy Hasan Miraz beat him on forward defence and survived by a whisker when replays showed impact was on the umpire’s call. On the very next ball, Unadkat brought out the slog-sweep against the off-spinner over mid-wicket fence for six.

Unadkat ran out of luck in the next over when he tried to cut off Shakib Al Hasan on backfoot, but the delivery from Bangladesh skipper skid to hit his back pad in front of stumps. He reviewed, but had to depart for 13 as replays showed the ball crashing into the stumps.

Axar Patel pulled Mehidy off the backfoot through mid-wicket, while Pant welcomed Shakib with a reverse sweep along the ground through third man for India to get two boundaries in quick succession.

But Mehidy took out Pant in his next over, getting a length ball on middle stump to drift in and hit the left-hander on his pads in front of stumps. After dismissing Pant for the third time in the series, Mehidy completed his five-wicket haul when Axar tried to flick off backfoot and missed it as the quicker delivery uprooted leg stump after deflecting off the pads.

Mehidy could have got his sixth wicket had Mominul Haque not dropped Ravichandran Ashwin at short leg. Ashwin and Shreyas Iyer dug in for India, looking good while defending the ball on front and back foot, with not much attacking shots.

When the loose deliveries came from the spinners, Iyer used his precise footwork to get boundaries. When Mehidy tossed up outside off stumps, Iyer got a stride forward and brought out a square drive through the gap at point.

His aggression continued against Shakib, dancing down the pitch to loft over mid-off and when the left-arm spinner pitched it short, Iyer rocked back quickly to pull over mid-wicket to complete a brace of boundaries.

When Mehidy bowled too short, Iyer was deep in the crease and punched the ball firmly through the gap at cover. Ashwin joined the boundary-hitting spree when he clipped pacer Khaled Ahmed through fine leg and then had an outside edge going wide to the left of gully to pick two boundaries.

The duo’s partnership meant Bangladesh began to feel the pressure, which was evident with Najmul Hossain Shanto misfielding at mid-off, giving India an extra run. Ashwin greeted Mehidy on his return with a one-handed pull off the backfoot over deep mid-wicket for six.

He would hit back-to-back boundaries off Mehidy – lofting over mid-off and pulling past wide mid-on, second of which got India the victory in a cliffhanger of a game, putting off the tremendous fight shown by Bangladesh with bat and ball.

The series victory also solidifies India’s quest for a spot in the World Test Championship final. Currently, India are at number two in the table, behind top-ranked Australia. The Pat Cummins-led side are supposed to tour India in February next year for four Tests.

Despite the series win, India still have many questions to answer, especially about the top order and the approach while playing against spinners in spin-friendly conditions. For now, they have Ashwin and Iyer to thank for securing a hard-fought win at Dhaka.

Brief Scores: Bangladesh 227 in 73.5 overs and 231 in 70.2 overs lost to India 314 in 86.3 overs and 145/7 in 47 overs (Ravichandran Ashwin 42 not out, Axar Patel 34; Mehidy Hasan Miraz 5/63, Shakib Al Hasan 2/50) by three wickets

IANS

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