Saturday, February 19, 2011

Bangladesh v India, Group B, World Cup 2011, Mirpur

Bangladesh spirited in improbable chase

Junaid Siddique was stumped off Harbhajan Singh's bowling as the spinners reined in Bangladesh's scoring rate to put India in front in Mirpur

Virat Kohli scored a century in his first World Cup game

Bangladesh did not go quietly. Their batsmen revived a Mirpur crowd reeling from the Indian onslaught with a spirited chase, but despite their swinging approach, their chances of overhauling the target of 371 were remote. The pitch quickened under lights, making shot-making easier, and the dew made the outfield slick and the ball harder to grip, but Bangladesh's bowlers had conceded far too much ground for their batsmen to make up.
It was Imrul Kayes, and not their leading batsman Tamim Iqbal, that kickstarted Bangladesh's innings. He carved Sreesanth over point and pulled Zaheer through square leg and those shots, combined with a few glances and inside-edges to fine leg, had boosted the score to 28 after four overs. And then Kayes exploded, and Sreesanth lost the plot.
During his first spell, Sreesanth had bowled inswinging yorkers, which both the left-handers somehow survived. The first ball of his fifth over, though, was a wide one that Kayes slashed at and bottom-edged past MS Dhoni to the fine-leg boundary. Sreesanth changed his line of attack, going round the wicket, and over-stepped while bowling a full delivery that Kayes flicked for four. A free-hit followed, and Kayes rocked back to pull towards the boundary, after which he drove a length ball through cover for four more. Sreesanth responded by slanting one so far down leg side that Dhoni couldn't reach it, resulting in five wides. He had conceded 24 off the over and Bangladesh were 51 for 0 after five.
While Zaheer had control over the run-rate at his end, Dhoni had had no option but to take Sreesanth off and bring Munaf Patel into the attack, a move that had immediate results. Kayes tried to force the slower pace of Munaf through the off side and played on, ending the opening partnership at 56.
The momentum, however, did not abate immediately as Junaid Siddique laid into the bowling, hoisting Munaf over the square leg boundary. Yusuf backpedalled, trying to catch it, and ended up crashing into the advertisement hoardings after tripping over the boundary skirting. Yusuf also failed to hold on to a tough chance after Siddique, on 10, had skied Munaf towards midwicket. Tamim then found his fluency and lofted Munaf over mid-on and punched him through cover.
Dhoni brought spin into the attack and Harbhajan Singh and Yusuf slowly but surely reined in the Bangladesh batsmen. Though Tamim and Siddique kept their wickets intact, the rise in dot balls heaped pressure on them. Siddique's dismissal - he was caught short of his crease by Dhoni's quick gloves in the 24th - for 37 further dampened Bangladesh's hopes. The lack of boundaries steadily forced the asking-rate up and at the half-way stage it was 9.36 per over.

50 overs India 370 for 4 (Sehwag 175, Kohli 100*) v Bangladesh

With a withering drive off the back foot, Virender Sehwag slammed the first ball of the 2011 World Cup to the cover boundary and, silencing a boisterous Mirpur crowd, recorded his maiden one-day international century against Bangladesh. He and Virat Kohli, who justified his captain's decision to leave out Suresh Raina with a century of his own, gave evidence of the havoc India's batting line-up can create, as Bangladesh's bowlers failed to maintain composure in the grandest match of their lives.
There was wisdom in Bangladesh choosing to chase - the previous 12 day-night matches at the Shere Bangla were won by the team batting second - but the bowlers offered abundant scoring opportunities on a slow pitch that kept low and had loopy bounce not conducive to shot-making. Shakib Al Hasan had said he wanted keep India below 260 when he put them in because of the dew factor later in the evening. He watched the target swell past that as Sehwag and Kohli dismantled the attack in front of a shell-shocked crowd.
Sehwag bookended the tournament's first over, from Shafiul Islam, with powerful drives to the cover-point boundary. Shafiul was guilty of giving Sehwag too much width, and in his second over he erred by straying twice on to Sachin Tendulkar's pads, and watched one ball disappear behind square and the other in front. His day would not get better and he conceded 69 off seven. In between Shaiful's first two overs, Rubel Hossain conceded two boundaries as well, and India raced to 36 after four.
Shakib turned to his premier spinner, Abdur Razzak, in the fifth over and he brought a semblance of control over the run-rate. Razzak looped the ball into Sehwag from round the wicket, following the batsman and cramping him for room as he tried hit inside out through the off side. Sehwag had scored 12 off his first six balls and 13 off his next 24.
Bangladesh were listless, though, as Sehwag regained his touch and drove the first ball off the bowling Powerplay to the long-on boundary, before finally making powerful contact with an inside-out drive. And then they had some good fortune. A mix-up, during which both Tendulkar and Sehwag were ball-watching, left both batsmen at one end and the Mirpur crowd found its voice again.
Sehwag, however, continued piercing gaps and hit the tournament's first six by hoisting Razzak over wide long-on to bring up his half-century off 45 balls. With his regular opening partner, Gautam Gambhir, Sehwag added 83 to build on the opening stand of 69. But while Sehwag used muscle on a sluggish surface, Gambhir played with surgical precision, dabbing, pushing and chipping into gaps to score at a run-a-ball without fuss. His dismissal for 39, bowled after missing a straight one from Mahmudullah, brought the crowd to life momentarily.
The stand out feature of Kohli's innings was his driving. On a surface this slow, he got to the pitch of the ball, gathering momentum with a forward thrust of his body, and drove the ball crisply through the off side with a whip of his wrists. He did it repeatedly against pace and spin, scoring effortlessly at more than a run a ball.
In the 32nd over, Sehwag reached his century off 94 balls with a nudge through midwicket. In the 33rd, Kohli drove Naeem Islam twice to the cover boundary and pulled him behind square as well. India took the batting Powerplay soon after the mandatory ball change and began to toy with the bowling. They would the boundary at will, the inside-edges missed the stumps and the lofted mis-hits fell into gaps. India scored 48 for 0 during the last block of fielding restrictions.
At one stage in seemed as though Sehwag, who had Gambhir running for him because of an injury, had a shot at a double-century. He ran out of steam, though, in the 48th over, almost making good his pledge to bat through the innings.
Kohli, however, moved seamlessly towards a hundred in his first World Cup match. He got there off the penultimate ball of the innings and leapt in celebration, possibly having secured his spot for the rest of the tournament.


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