Skipper Virat Kohli and opener Murali Vijay pulverised a hapless Bangladesh attack into submission with majestic hundreds as India reached a commanding 356 for three at the end of the first day of the one-off Test here.
The Indian captain (111 batting) scored his 15th Test hundred in just over a session after Vijay (108) batted solidly in the company of Cheteshwar Pujara (83) to provide an ideal platform.
En route his ninth Test century, Vijay played 160 balls, hitting 12 boundaries and a lovely six down the ground off Shakib Al Hasan. The only glitch in his otherwise blemish-free innings was a near run-out possibility when he was on 35.
To sum up India’s batting, Pujara was the epitome of patience, Vijay’s shots had contempt and skipper Kohli capped it with a display of utter disdain in what turned out to be a total domination by the Indian team.
Each innings was special in its own way and the home team would like to bat the minnows out of the game with a gigantic first-innings total. The slowness of the pitch will make it difficult for the team batting second.
As far as Indian batting is concerned, if Vijay hit sublime pull shots, Kohli looked regal playing the drives on the up.
A firm push by the Indian captain off Taskin Ahmed was a treat to watch. The pull, in front of square off a bouncer from Kamrul Islam Rabbi, was more of a slap shot. It showed why his quality of batsmanship is a notch above Vijay, who, in fact, was fantastic in his own right.
Such was Kohli’s nonchalance that he merely celebrated after completing his hundred with a powerful whip off Mehedi Hasan Miraz through midwicket.
Poor Rabbi repeatedly bowled short and was hit for as many as 13 fours in the 91 runs that he conceded in 17 overs.
The platform was set when in-form Pujara and Vijay added 178 runs for the second wicket. The Vijay-Kohli partnership for the third wicket produced 54 runs and the unbroken fourth-wicket stand with a fit-again Ajinkya Rahane (45) saw the hosts add 122 runs in 26.2.
Once Vijay was bowled round the legs trying to play the sweep shot off left-arm spinner Taijul Islam (1/50), Kohli took it upon himself to literally ‘manhandle’ the Bangladesh bowlers.
The intensity and the urgency to score quickly was evident as India upped the ante in the second session that yielded 120 runs in 31 overs. The final passage of play was even better as India amassed 150 runs in 32 overs.
Pujara, who was playing second fiddle to Vijay, will rue his luck as it was a soft dismissal with an outside edge being snapped up by skipper Mushfiqur Rahim with rookie off-spinner Mehedi Hasan Miraz being the gainer. Pujara hit nine boundaries in his patient 177-ball knock.
By aggregating 1605 runs in this first-class season, which includes Tests as well as other four-day matches, Pujara also broke a 52-year-old record held by Chandu Borde.
This was the seventh time that the Vijay-Pujara duo was involved in a century stand and is now joint second along with Gautam Gambhir and Rahul Dravid. The highest number of century partnerships is eight. It is jointly shared by Mohinder Amarnath-Sunil Gavaskar and Rahul Dravid-Virender Sehwag duos.
For Vijay, his love affair with Bangladesh bowling continued as he had scored 150 in Fatullah during the previous meeting between the two teams. That he loves the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium in Uppal was evident as it was his second successive ton at the venue, having scored his career-best 167 at this very ground in 2013.
An easy pitch with a bowling attack lacking experience came to the fore as Bangladesh bowlers fizzled out post the first hour. Save Taskin Ahmed (1/58 in 16 overs), who showed a lot of heart on a slow track, the other bowlers, including the experienced Shakib, lacked incisiveness and discipline to trouble a batting line-up that is potent at home.
In the post lunch session, it was Vijay who launched an offensive by taking on the opposition’s best bet Shakib (0/45 in 13 overs).
Having hit Rabbi for three pulled boundaries in the first session, the veteran Tamil Nadu opener again unleashed a pull shot with Rabbi using the short ball to no effect.
He reached the 70’s with a back cut and a down-the-ground six off Shakib. As he reached the 90’s, he became a bit cautious not trying to complete the milestone before tea. He duly completed his hundred with a square cut off Rabbi that fetched him two runs.
Earlier, opting to bat, India survived opener Lokesh Rahul’s (2) first over dismissal but Vijay and Pujara ensured there were no demons in it.
At the onset, Rahul, whose scores hover between single and three digits in longer format, was bowled when he dragged a fuller delivery from Taskin while attempting a cover drive.
His new ball partner Rabbi worked up decent pace with his slinging action. Vijay and Pujara were initially cautious as only seven runs came off the first five overs.
The first boundary came in the sixth over bowled by Rabbi when Pujara opened the face of his bat to glide it past the point region.
The seasoned players, who have been involved in some great partnerships over the years, decided to see off the new ball with the first 10 overs yielding only 26 runs.
Once Soumya Sarakar was introduced as the first-change bowler in the 11th over, Indian batsmen opened with Pujara whipping him for a boundary.
A cautious Vijay then showed his range of strokes using Rabbi’s pace and extra bounce to good effect. He pulled the pacer thrice for boundaries.
The first two were pull shots behind square and the third was past square leg – a typical ‘Nataraja Shot’ that would remind one of Kapil Dev. He hit an eye catching cover drive off Taskin.
Vijay looked in good touch and Pujara’s defence seemed impregnable as Bangladesh bowlers were outbatted in the second hour.