When one talks about Test pitches in India during the early 90s, the template would be set in this way. The pacers would bowl just a couple of overs to take the shine off the new ball and the spinners would do the bulk of the work. In 2019, in Virat Kohli's time, this does not hold true. In India's 13 series dominance at home since 2012, the pacers have laid the template for taking the bulk of the wickets while Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja have continuously probed away. In Indore, the dominance of the pacers was exhibited in grand style and Bangladesh felt the wrath of Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma as they were razed out for 150 on the opening day of the Indore Test against India at the Holkar stadium on Thursday.
The wicket presented at the Holkar stadium was green and hard. First Class statistics at Indore indicated that pace would dominate. Bangladesh, under new skipper Mominul Haque, won the toss and chose to bat. On a green pitch, with an Indian pace attack on top of it's game, this seemed a brave move but it backfired immediately. Imrul Kayes, troubled by the inswing from Umesh Yadav, was undone by the extra zip and bounce off the deck to edge to gully while Shadman Islam edged Ishant Sharma's late away-swinger to Wriddhiman Saha. The catch gave Saha his 300th catch in First Class cricket and both openers had fallen cheaply.
Mominul, the skipper and Mushfiqur Rahim, went about steadying the innings but they were facing an Indian pace attack that was relentless in accuracy. Rahim looked to take the attack to India by smashing Ravichandran Ashwin straight down the ground for a big six. India made Bangladesh's life a bit easier by dropping catches. First, Kohli dropped a simple catch off Rahim at slip as Umesh continued to probe away. Ajinkya Rahane was the next fielder to drop a catch as he dropped a sharp chance off Ashwin with Rahim benefiting again. The Bangladesh veteran was third time lucky when he edged a sharp offspinner only for Saha to spill the chance.
Ashwin strikes, floodgates open
The 68-run stand gave Bangladesh some hope and that was the only time the Indian bowlers had to work hard. However, Ashwin induced a moment of brain-fade from the Bangladesh skipper. Mominul shouldered arms to a delivery that drifted in and held its line to hit off stump. The wicket gave Ashwin his 250th wicket in his 42nd home Test, equalling the record to the quickest to the feat with Muttiah Muralitharan and faster than Anil Kumble. All hopes were on Mahmudullah but he was bowled by Ashwin as he moved too far to the off side to miss the sweep and get bowled around his legs.
Shami's introduction in the last over before tea swung the momentum decisively in India's favour. The speedster nipped out Rahim with a delivery that swung back in sharply in the air and off the deck while he trapped Mehidy Hasan LBW. Immediately after the resumption, Ishant Sharma got the better of Liton Das and although Shami did not get the hat-trick, Bangladesh were in tatters. Taijul Islam's run-out due to a rocket throw from Ravindra Jadeja and Umesh's wonderful ball to send back Ebadot Hossain ended Bangladesh's misery as they were bowled out for 150.
Bangladesh had some success when they got rid of Rohit Sharma for 6 when he edged a good length ball that held it's line outside off to Liton. However, Mayank Agarwal and Cheteshwar Pujara were in superb touch, with Pujara looking aggressive and confident against both pace and spin. The pace bowlers have ensured that India are firmly in the driver's seat. Now, it is upto the batsmen to ensure that the template which has served Kohli so well in the last couple of series is being followed so that they can take an unassailable lead in the two-match series.