Ravichandran Ashwin and Shreyas Iyer held their nerves to guide India to a dramatic three-wicket win over Bangladesh in the second Test in Mirpur on Sunday.
The visitors seemed down and out at 74-7 chasing 145 after off-spinner Mehidy Hasan picked up his fifth wicket. But Iyer (29 not out) received excellent support from Ashwin (42 not out) as they kept Bangladesh spinners at bay before going on the attack to seal a 2-0 series win, which enhanced their chances of making it to the World Test Championship final in June.
Bangladesh dominated play in the opening hour as captain Shakib Al Hasan dismissed nightwatchman Jaydev Unadkat, who hit a six in the opening over but fell in the next after making 13.
Mehidy then trapped danger man Rishabh Pant leg before for nine before he bowled overnight batsman Axar Patel for 34.
The ball was keeping low and offering sharp turn. The last recognised batting pair of Iyer and Ashwin had their task cut out. And at a crucial moment, India received a lifeline.
Ashwin was dropped by Mominul Haque on one at forward short leg before he grew in confidence, with Iyer looking solid against spin at the other end.
After his three fours in two overs, Bangladesh were forced to finally bring pacers into the attack but to no avail.
Ashwin, who was named player of the match, took India close with a six after Mehidy changed his bowling end and wrapped up the contest with two more boundaries.
“We’ve played enough cricket to realise that someone will put their hand up to win us the game,” India captain KL Rahul said.
“But I’m not going to lie, there was a lot of tension in the dressing room. It was a tough wicket to bat on, they put us under pressure in both innings. It was a matter of who plays the new ball better. We did lose a few more wickets than ideal [in the chase] but we got the job done.”
Bangladesh were hoping to level the two-match series after winning the ODI leg 2-1. Captain Shakib congratulated both teams for their fight.
"Credit goes to Shreyas and Ashwin, they absorbed the pressure well and built a partnership,” he said.
“We had 70-odd runs to play with, just needed one wicket. We can think of several ifs and buts, but I’m proud of the way we fought. We had our moments this year but hopefully, next year will be much better for Bangladesh.”
The win helped India consolidate their position in the WTC table. They are in second position behind leaders Australia, with the top two teams at the end of the cycle competing in the final.
Bangladesh were all out for 227 in the first innings, after opting to bat first. India however racked up 314 to take an 87-run lead. The home side batted poorly again to be bowled out for 231 in the second innings, setting India a 145-run target.