Bangladesh turns ‘blue’ by the Indian quickies in much hyped Pink Test
There were a Prime Minister, a Chief Minister, some of India's greatest sportspersons and Bangladesh's first batch of Test cricketers - all turned up at Eden Gardens. Not to mention a packed house of 65,000 spectators in one of the biggest cricket parties thrown in the most fabled cricket patch on this side of the world.
Indecisiveness against deliveries around the off stump was all the superb India attack needed to exploit. Barring Imrul Kayes, who was undone by an Ishant Sharma delivery that thudded into the left-hander's front pad, the rest were either caught behind or in the slips, or bowled off the inside edge.
"No Bangladesh cricket team, or Bangladesh cricket itself for that matter, has been given so much respect in an away game"
Shadman Islam lasted 52 balls by leaving nearly half of those, but just when he looked to be out of the woods, he was trapped by Umesh Yadav's beautiful length and line. Mominul Haque was caught in the slips before Mohammad Mithun and Mushfiqur Rahim appeared to be beaten by Yadav's pace. Mahmudullah remained iffy outside off stump while Liton Das looked assured until Mohammed Shami slammed one into his helmet..
Bangladesh was bowled out in broad daylight when sighting the pink ball hasn't been much of an issue for these pink-ball newcomers, at least in training.
The visitors didn't quite take lessons from Indore where, after deciding to bat first, they were caught in two minds in the face of India's accurate bowling. Only Mushfiqur forced India to look for plans B and C as Mominul strangely admitted it was a "mistake" to bat first even though many including the opposition camp praised their decision.
At Eden Gardens too, Bangladesh decided to give what they thought were the best batting conditions to their batsmen. The pitch was dry, the light was bright and accepted wisdom is that the pink ball swings more at night than during the day. It made no difference thanks to a set of players stuck too far in their shell.
Mushfiqur continuing to bat at No. 5 remained perplexing. Without wicket keeping duties in this series, it was well known that he was playing only as a batsman and in the absence of Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan, stepping up to what is considered his best position, was almost a given.
It would have allowed him more control over the top and middle order, particularly with Shadman and Imrul struggling so much. Mominul also would have enjoyed Mushfiqur's experience at No. 4, but instead, they let Mithun and his one-day-cricket-driven technique take over that position. The result was a fragile top order and extra pressure on Mushfiqur and Mahmudullah - they would spend their time at the crease knowing even the slightest mistake would open up the tail.
"Mushfiqur Rahim continuing to bat at No. 5 remained perplexing"
While their batting approach would be scrutinized repeatedly, what would also come under question is their sense for the occasion. Bangladesh has often stepped up in milestone matches and even when the odds were against them.
Sourav Ganguly's attention to detail, the milestone of this being their first day-night Test, the novelty of the pink ball, the pre-game events and easily the biggest crowd they were playing in front of, could have roused them into an inspired showing. They were up against undeniably the best bowling attack in the world, which too could have been motivation.
But one aspect did touch them. No Bangladesh cricket team, or Bangladesh cricket itself for that matter, has been given so much respect in an away game. It was as much a Bangladeshi occasion as it was India's and it was hard not to be moved, especially considering they are often avoided by most of the major cricket nations.
The only way they could have given back to this occasion was by providing some steel, if not thrill, with the bat. But while everyone from their head of state, ministers, pioneering cricketers and great musicians turned up, Bangladesh's batting was left in Indore, Chattogram, Antigua and Potchefstroom, where too they had been overpowered.