Dhaka Test: Ashwin, Shreyas Iyer rescue India with narrow win over Bangladesh

Ravichandran Ashwin and Shreyas Iyer saved India from what would have been a hugely embarrassing defeat, lifting them from the depths of 74 for 7 and dragging them to the target of 145 before lunch on the fourth morning of the second Test against Bangladesh in Dhaka for a 2-0 series win.

When Mehidy Hasan Miraz uprooted Axar Patel’s leg stump for his fifth wicket of the innings, India were just past the halfway stage of what was increasingly looking like a target beyond them. Resuming on 45 for 4, India had lost Jaydev Unadkat plumb leg-before to Shakib Al Hasan, and had also burned a review in trying to save the nightwatchman.

Bangladesh had said after the third day’s play that Rishabh Pant would be the key batsman, and the wicketkeeper showed why, reverse-sweeping and sweeping Shakib from around the same spot to make a mess of the hosts’ fields. But the relentless Mehidy soon had his man; bowling a tight line from round the wicket, with one turning and another going straight, Mehidy trapped Pant in front with one that did not turn. It was so plumb that Pant did not even review.

Axar had arrived ahead of Virat Kohli on the third evening at No 4 and while the specialists had imploded, he’d played a mighty useful innings, defending resolutely and punching the spinners off the back foot for boundaries. But in his next over, Mehidy slipped in another straighter one that crashed into Axar’s leg stump off his pad. And within half an hour into the day, India were down to their last recognised batting pair.

Mehidy continued to cause problems, but Mominul Haque – he’d taken two excellent catches of Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli at forward short leg – put down what was arguably a much more straightforward chance off Ashwin, who was on just 1 then.

Someone had to bell the cat eventually, and it was Shreyas Iyer who wrested back the initiative. He cracked Mehidy through the covers for a couple of fours, and with the risk of throwing away probably India’s last chance if he got it wrong, danced down the track to loft Shakib over mid-off. That brought the shorter ball immediately and Iyer rocked back to pull it over midwicket for another four.

The Bangladesh counter-attack from 113 for 6 in their second innings had begun around this stage as well, as the older ball had become softer and ceased to do as much off the pitch.

Bangladesh turned to some pace from Khaled Ahmed but now Ashwin worked him fine off his pads and then edged him between slip and gully for two fours. It was a small chase after all, and in no time, the partnership had grown past 50 and India were motoring to the win. Ashwin hastened the end in style, pulling, lofting and whipping Mehidy for three boundaries in one over to knock the winning runs.

Ashwin, named the Player of the Match for his six wickets and unbeaten 42 in the chase, said: “We didn’t have much batting left. It was one of those games where we let the game drift whenever we could have shut it off. Shreyas batted beautifully. Sometimes in these situations you feel like you have to get ahead of things, they bowled good lines and I felt that we didn’t trust our defences enough. Loved the way Shreyas batted. I thought the ball got soft really quickly. Credit to Bangladesh, they put us under real pressure at certain moments.”

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