Pant, Iyer slam counter-attacking fifties, leave India on the verge of taking lead

by IANS |

Dhaka, Dec 23 (IANS) Rishabh Pant and Shreyas Iyer slammed counter-attacking fifties to put India on the verge of taking the lead at the end of the second session in the Dhaka Test against Bangladesh. At tea, India are 226/4, and trail Bangladesh by just one run.

Though Bangladesh started well by taking out Virat Kohli quickly, Pant and Iyer joined forces to revive the Indian challenge from 94/4 on a tough pitch with an unbroken 132-run stand, as runs in the session came at a quick run rate of 5.6.

Pant used his wrists, bottom hand and feet superbly to take the attack to Bangladesh bowlers and put them under pressure with his 86 not out. Iyer, on the other hand, survived some close shaves but brought out his superb shots to be 58 not out.

The session began with Kohli wristing an on-drive past Taijul Islam for a boundary. But in the very next over, the former India captain edged a good length delivery from Taskin Ahmed behind sans any feet movement.

Pant got a thick edge rolling past backward point for a four off Mehidy Hasan Miraz, while Shreyas Iyer countered short balls from Taskin Ahmed -- flat-batting over mid-on, followed by a pull to bisect fine-leg and deep backward square-leg for successive boundaries.

But Taskin was still able to trouble Iyer with seam movement and variable bounce. An lbw appeal by him off Iyer was turned down and a ball later, the right-hander's slash was dropped in a tough attempt by Mehidy, who hurt himself in the process.

Pant got more runs by whipping off his wrists through mid-on and dabbing off backfoot through point for back-to-back fours off Khaled Ahmed. He welcomed Shakib Al Hasan by tucking through fine leg for four, before slog-sweeping Taijul over cow corner for six.

After Pant reached his fifty in 49 balls, Iyer survived a stumping chance off Shakib as Nurul Hasan made a mess behind. The right-hander rubbed salt in the wounds by cutting Shakib through backward point and then lofting over mid-off to fetch a brace of boundaries.

Pant joined the party of taking runs off Shakib when he danced down the pitch to smash a one-handed six over long-on. He then went big on the loft against Mehidy and had luck on his side when Mushfiqur Rahim palmed the ball over long-on for six.

When Taijul dropped short, Iyer was quick in rocking back and pulling through mid-wicket for four. Pant then brought the century of the partnership with Iyer by heaving Taijul over mid-wicket for four and ended the over by dancing down the pitch to smack a six over long-on.

The duo then took a six each off Mehidy through the leg-side, before Iyer, who got his second consecutive fifty of the series in 60 balls, rocked back to pull Shakib over deep mid-wicket for another maximum and get the session firmly in India's favour.

Earlier, Taijul, the experienced left-arm spinner, took out India's top three in the morning session to give the hosts early edge. He had taken out openers K.L. Rahul and Shubman Gill lbw in quick succession, before Mominul Haque at forward short-leg took a sharp catch of Cheteshwar Pujara, giving Taijul his third wicket in the morning.

Brief scores: Bangladesh 227 all out in 73.5 overs (Mominul Haque 84; Umesh Yadav 4-25) lead India 226/4 in 61 overs (Rishabh Pant 86 not out, Shreyas Iyer 58 not out; Taijul Islam 3-55, Taskin Ahmed 1-44) by 1 run.

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