Hyderabad: Skipper Mushfiqur Rahim and Mehedi Hasan made gritty half-centuries as Bangladesh try to prevent a follow-on against a dominant India on the third day of their one-off Test on Saturday.
Rahim (81 not out) shared a 107-run fifth-wicket stand with Shakib Al Hasan (82) before putting on an unbeaten partnership with young Hasan to frustrate the hosts. Hasan was batting on 51.
The visitors were 322 for six at stumps, needing another 166 runs to avoid the follow-on against the world’s number one Test side.
“We will want them [Rahim and Hasan] to play the first session and maybe we can score 100-120 runs that can take us close to the follow-on saving, which is our first target as of now,” Shakib told reporters.
“Obviously India is on front foot ...at this moment we are still a long way from the match.”
Wicketkeeper-batsman Rahim, who took 35 balls to move from 46 to 50, tackled the Indian bowlers with patience on a pitch that still looked good for batting.
Rahim took a nasty blow on his finger from pacer Ishant Sharma in the final over of the day, only to hit the bowler for a boundary off the very next delivery.
“When the situation is tough, he likes to stand up and do the hard work for the team and that character obviously helped him playing for so long and doing well for Bangladesh,” Shakib said of his captain.
Rahim found a perfect partner in Hasan to stage a fightback after the visitors were left reeling at 235 for six in the afternoon session.
Hasan, who claimed two wickets in the Indian innings with his off-spin, showed great batting temperament to register his maiden Test fifty in just his fifth outing.
The 19-year-old all-rounder, who made his Test debut against England in Chittagong last year, struck 10 boundaries during his 103-ball stay at the wicket.
Rahim’s crucial stand with Shakib, who registered his 21st Test half-century, helped Bangladesh recover against a formidable bowling attack.
The left-handed Shakib played some attacking cricket during a brisk knock laced with 14 boundaries, but admitted to having faced a testing spell from Indian seamer Umesh Yadav, who claimed two wickets.
“Well obviously he was bowling really well; probably the best spell I faced in my career: the way he was moving the ball both ways, it was tremendous, all credit goes to him,” Shakib said of his Indian Premier League (IPL) teammate Yadav.
Shakib eventually ran out of steam, losing his wicket to India’s premier spinner Ravichandran Ashwin after mistiming a drive to mid-on.
Starting the day on 41 for one, the visitors made their way to 125-4 at lunch with Indian pacers compounding Bangladesh’s woes in their first-ever Test on Indian soil.
India’s batting coach Sanjay Bangar praised skipper Virat Kohli’s five-bowler theory that, according to him, has helped India succeed in recent times.
“I think our bowling has been doing really well ...It also leads to number of victories you got because of the five bowler combination. Virat backs quite a lot on that,” Bangar said.
“It’s very important that the bowling unit is developed in such a fashion that even when India tours overseas, spinners will have to play a particular role, and role reverses for seamers when they play in India,” said the former India batsman.
The hosts had put themselves in a commanding position after Kohli smashed 204, steering the team to a record total of 687-6 declared against Bangladesh.
India have won six and drawn two matches against Bangladesh, who gained Test status only in 2000.