What if it was Bangladesh in a one-off test? It did mark another test-series win for the rampaging India side, whose recent 4-1 victory over England was still afresh. Bangladesh, who acquired full ICC membership in June 2000, cannot be regarded as minnows. They did begin as losers in their first 21 test matches but later, the tide turned for them. In 2005, Bangladesh registered their first test and series-win against Zimbabwe and did even better afterwards. In 2009, they went to the West Indies and won both tests matches for a 2-0 test-series win. This instilled tremendous confidence in the young Bangla side, which had some very promising players. Including the Hyderabad test against India, Bangladesh have played 98 test matches. Though they have won only 8 out of them, they produced impressive home performances against strong sides like New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, India and South Africa by holding these teams to draws. Bangladesh are regarded as a far better team in ODI games, their test performance is improving with time. Over the last three years, Team Bangladesh is being coached by former Sri Lankan cricketer Chandika Hathurusingha, who believes that his wards have a bright future in test cricket. Before the Hyderabad test, India captain Virat Kohli also stated that he wasn’t going to take historical performance as a benchmark against a constantly improving team. However as it turned out, India came up tops against their visiting neighbors in scoring a massive 208-run win in the one-off test and grabbed another test-series win to make it six-in-a-row since Kohli assumed captain’s duty.
India began the Hyderabad test on a sound note by electing to bat after winning the toss. The early loss of opener Lokesh Rahul was soon forgotten as Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara produced a 178-run second-wicket stand that paved the way for a big first innings total. After Vijay and Pujara did their jobs, skipper Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane picked up the baton and eked out a 222-run fourth-wicket partnership. Even after their departure, India still had Wriddhiman Saha, R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja and team’s combined efforts helped India reach 687/6, before they declared their innings. Three Indians came with century performances and Kohli led them with a 246-ball 204 to record his fourth double century in four consecutive test-series. Vijay made 108 and Saha 106. With scores of 83 and 82 respectively, Pujara and Rahane also proved their worth in the innings building.
After telling performances from Indian batsmen, the bowlers proved equally effective in sending four Bangla batsmen back to the pavilion. But as the visitors reeled at 109/4, time-tried Shakib Al Hasan and captain Musfiqur Rahim stood their ground bravely and kept India’s bowlers at bay for long. The two Bangla batsmen were involved in a 107-run fifth-wicket stand and Bangladesh reached 216/5. Later, 19-year old Mehedi Hasan Mirza and Sabbir Rahman offered more resistance. At 388 all out, Bangladesh couldn’t avoid the follow-on but Kohli opted to bat the second time. Playing in ODI style, India reached 159/4 within 30 overs and applied another closure. That left Bangladesh with a 459-run victory target with plenty of time still left in the match.
In the second innings, Bangladesh began by losing Tamim Iqbal in sixth over but Soumya Sarkar and Mominul Haque kept their heads down and forked out a 60-run second wicket stand before both batsmen departed in quick succession. Though Mahmudullah and Shakib tried their best to hang around, Indian bowlers came back with vengeance. Ravindra Jadeja’s accurate spin bowling and Ishant Sharma’s reverse swing unsettled the Bangla batsmen as wickets began tumbling. After Shakib’s wicket, skipper Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah taunted the Indian bowlers for a while before yielding in the end. The visitors were all-out for 250 to hand over a 208 run victory for India.
The test-series win against Bangladesh is the sixth consecutive with Kohli in charge. This is also a record after five straight series victories between October 2008 and January 2010. The earlier five test-series wins under Kohli have come against Sri Lanka, South Africa, West Indies, New Zealand and recently against England. Under Kohli’s leadership, India have remained unbeaten in their last 19 Tests. Earlier such record of 18 test wins without losing was registered by Sunil Gavaskar, when the legend was India’s captain. Another big feature of the match was Ashwin reaching a bowling landmark. The Indian spinner went past the likes of Allan Donald, Waqar Younis and finally Denis Lillee in taking his wickets tally to 250 in just 45 tests. The legendary Australian took 48 tests for 250 wickets. Ashwin is now the sixth Indian bowler after Anil Kumble (619), Kapil Dev (434), Harbhajan Singh (417), Zaheer Khan (311), Bishan Bedi (266) to reach the 250-wicket mark in test cricket.