Bangladesh's first impression ahead of their one-off Test against India was anything but inspiring yesterday.
Batting first after winning the toss in the lone two-day practice match against India A, the Tigers limped to 224 for eight. More baffling was the declaration at that point when they were still left with 23 overs in their allotted quota of 90. The second-string Indian side raced to 91 for one in 21 overs when stumps were drawn for the day at the Gymkhana Ground in Hyderabad.
The team management can better explain the surprise decision to declare. But from a layman's point of view that declaration neither salvaged a battered image nor did it help in any way to hide their inability to bat for long periods. Bangladesh batted exactly 67 overs and their 200-plus total was built around two half centuries of stark contrast and an 81-run sixth wicket stand after they were reduced to 113 for five.
Batting at number three, left-handed batsman Soumya Sarkar struck a fluent 52 off 73 balls that contained nine fours and a six. Skipper Mushfiqur Rahim on the other hand grafted his way to 58 off 106 balls that featured eight fours and a six.
With Soumya carrying his good form from New Zealand, the left-hander has certainly provided the team think-tank ample food for thought for his inclusion in the Test starting at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium on February 9.
Mushfiqur, who missed most of the New Zealand tour due to injuries, once again showed why he is considered the most assured batsman in the team. He was actually responsible for taking the score past the 200-mark with yet another solid batting performance on a wicket that bounced a lot and assisted the pacers.
The good news is that not a single Bangladesh batsman threw his wicket away except for opener Imrul Kayes who hooked his way out after scoring four runs. Tamim Iqbal got a start but played on for 13 against a good delivery from Aniket Choudhary.
The left-arm pace bowler from Rajasthan extracted good bounce from the wicket and troubled the Bangladesh batsmen. He also dismissed Mominul Haque (5), Mushfiqur and Mehedi Hasan Miraz for a first-ball duck to finish with fantastic figures of 12-2-26-4.
Mahmudullah Riyad was playing well on 23 but was undone while playing inside the line of the ball. Sabbir Rahman, who featured in the 81-run sixth-wicket stand with Mushfiqur, was also dismissed in the same fashion after scoring a solid 33.
Although the game has been designed as 90 overs per innings, Bangladesh still have a chance to bat again subject to how long the home team bat on the second and final day.