Even as the shadows started lengthening at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium here on Saturday, there was little to no inkling of any other result other than an Indian victory.
There was of course resistance from the Bangladesh batters in their second innings, with Litton Das (73, 98b, 7x4) and Zakir Hasan (51, 135b, 4x5) coming up with spirited displays to take the target up to 145.
However, on a pitch that was not necessarily crumbling, chasing a sub-150 score should have been straightforward. India has after all lost only once before pursuing a total this small – to West Indies at Bridgetown back in 1997, all out for 81 chasing 120.
But that was until Bangladesh sought to tell a different story. In what was a manic final hour, the home bowlers set the cat among the pigeons by first reducing India to 29 for three and then adding the prized scalp of Virat Kohli to leave the visitors at 45 for four at close and the game tantalisingly poised.
With still 100 needed, India has two non-specialist batters at the crease, but with first-innings heroes in Rishabh Pant and Shreyas Iyer still to come. Southpaw Axar Patel, sent in to bat at No. 4 to disrupt the left-arm spinners in Shakib Al Hasan and Taijul Islam, was unbeaten on 26 (54b, 3x4) alongside Jaydev Unadkat, who came in at the fall of Kohli.
The wrecker-in-chief was off-spinner Mehidy Hasan (8-3-12-3), who has made it a habit all tour to arrive fashionably late and gate-crash the visiting side’s party. Each of the four top-order batters trusted their defence, and perished.
Skipper KL Rahul was the first to walk the forlorn path back to the pavilion, out caught behind off Shakib for his seventh straight score below 25. Cheteshwar Pujara and Shubman Gill both advanced down the track to Mehidy, only to find themselves in no man’s land, and were duly stumped by Nurul Hasan.
Kohli lent forward to defend on the off-side, only for the ball to take the edge and go low to short-leg, where Mominul Haque snapped it up to trigger wild celebrations. Kohli wasn’t happy with a few words that were said, remonstrating with captain Shakib. As to whose will be the parting shot will be known on Sunday morning.
Earlier, when Bangladesh was 71 for four at Lunch, still 16 runs in the red, the contest had seemed done and dusted. Zakir had held one end up, but got little support. But Litton’s brisk partnerships for the seventh and eighth wickets, with Nurul (46 runs) and Taskin Ahmed (60 runs) respectively, ensured a decent total to bowl at.
India was also shoddy on the field, with the usually reliable Kohli missing three clear-cut chances at first slip, two off Litton and one off Nurul. Still, at that point, none seemed enough to cause a sharp turnaround in fortunes for Bangladesh. But by sunset, the hosts had flipped the script to leave India on shaky ground.