Pant, Shreyas put India on top

Between lunch and tea, Pant added fire to the match, which seemed to be hanging in the balance, with a 105-ball stay that was studded with seven fours and five maximums.
Shreyas Iyer (left) and Rishabh Pant put on 159 runs for the fifth wicket on the second day
Shreyas Iyer (left) and Rishabh Pant put on 159 runs for the fifth wicket on the second day

MIRPUR: Rishabh Pant enhanced his reputation with a scintillating 93, which put India in a commanding position for a series clean sweep against Bangladesh, here on Friday.

Pant, who was dismissed in the 90s for the sixth time in his Test career, brought his ‘A’ game to the fore with a counter-attacking knock that was the cornerstone of India’s first innings total of 314 on the second day of the second Test.

Between lunch and tea, Pant added fire to the match, which seemed to be hanging in the balance, with a 105-ball stay that was studded with seven fours and five maximums.

Shreyas Iyer also batted with a lot of intent, but missed his second hundred of the series, getting out for 87 off 105 balls (10 fours, 2 sixes). Riding on the crucial 159-run fifth-wicket stand between Pant and Shreyas, India, which was tottering at 94 for four in the 38th over, will fancy its chances for a fourth-day finish. Trailing by 87 runs at the end of the opening exchanges, Bangladesh was seven without loss at stumps.

Talking after the day’s play, Shreyas said: “I love and thrive under challenges. Pressure lifts me, that is the situation I wanted to be in. Pant kept me calm and composed. It (the partnership) was crucial for the team.”

The morning session belonged to Bangladesh left-arm spinner Taijul Islam (4/74), who rocked the top-order by dismissing skipper KL Rahul (10), Shubman Gill (20) and Cheteshwar Pujara (24). But, by the end of the afternoon session, Pant had blown the host away. Pant blasted the Bangladesh spin troika by smashing five sixes – two off Taijul, two off Mehidy Hasan Miraz and one off skipper Shakib Al Hasan.

The visitor had been in trouble at 94 for four when Virat Kohli (24 off 73 balls) again nicked one off Taskin Ahmed (1/58) outside the off-stump channel before Pant propelled the India innings. Pant hammered Taijul into submission by dancing down the track and carting him either in the arc between mid-wicket and long-on or by lofting him down the ground.

The most exhilarating shot was a one-handed down-the-ground strike off Shakib. And, it was not at all surprising when he repeated it off Miraz over long-on for a 100-metre long maximum. The Bangladesh bowlers, who were pumped up at the lunch break, had drooped shoulders by the time tea was called.

Pant’s beast mode did rub off on Shreyas as the right hander lofted Miraz for his first six and duly completed his second half-century of the series with a single. By the time, Pant nicked a delivery from Miraz to Nurul Hasan behind the stumps, missing out on yet another Test hundred. He was completely done and did not come out to keep wickets after experiencing cramps.

BRIEF SCORES: Bangladesh 227 & 7/0 in 6 overs vs India 314 in 86.3 overs (R Pant 93, Shreyas 87, Taijul 4/74, Shakib 4/79)

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