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India too good for Bangladesh

By Harish Kotian in Nottinghham
Last updated on: June 07, 2009 02:23 IST

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With two upsets already witnessed in the tournament, defending champions India ensured they were not caught off-guard as they came up with a thumping 25-run victory over Bangladesh in the ICC World Twenty20, in Nottingham, on Saturday.

Bangladesh's hopes of repeating their 2007 50-over World Cup upset failed as they could put up only 155 for eight in reply to India's massive 180 for five.

Pragyan Ojha vindicated Mahendra Singh Dhoni's decision to play two spinners as he finished with magnificent figures of four for 21 in his four overs. He was deservedly named man of the match.

For Bangladesh, opener Junaid Siddique smashed a quick 41 from 22 deliveries, but the rest of the batsmen failed to deliver.

Earlier, Gautam Gambhir played the sheet anchor role to perfection with a solid half-century, while Yuvraj Singh provided the finishing touches to the innings with some powerful strokes in the final overs, as India posted a healthy total.

Gambhir hit a steady 50 from 46 deliveries to provide solid platform, before Yuvraj stole the thunder on an otherwise gloomy day with a blazing knock of 41 from just 18 deliveries, inclusive of three boundaries and four sixes.

In the day's other matches earlier, New Zealand beat Scotland by seven wickets while the West Indies won by as many against Australia.

India:

Gautam Gambhir found the boundary off the second ball of the innings, when he cut pacer Mashrafe Mortaza through point. Even Rohit Sharma found the middle of the bat right from the word go as he smashed the first ball he faced from Mortaza through the covers for a boundary.

Gambhir, on 13, got a reprieve when Raqibul Hasan at point dropped a sharp catch to his right as the left-hander hit a cracking cut shot off Shahadat Hossain. Off the very next delivery, Rohit lofted one high over square leg boundary for the first six of the match that just about managed to evade the fielder. He then smashed the next delivery, which was a bit wide, through the point region for a boundary as India raced to 33 after four overs.

Gambhir was in mood to relent either, as he stepped down the wicket, gave himself room and hit Mortaza through the covers for a boundary.

Rubel came in for his second spell in the fifth over and was immediately taken to the cleaners by Rohit. The right-hander lofted one on middle and leg stump high over midwicket for his second six and followed it up with a boundary through the same area as India raced to 54 after six overs.

It seemed Rohit (36) was enjoying a charmed life as Mushfiqur Rahim messed up an easy stumping chance off Shakib Al Hasan. But immediately, off the next delivery, Rohit was bowled as he played a cross batted slog but completely missed the ball.

The right-hander, who hit three boundaries and two sixes in his 23-ball knock, had given India a solid foundation with his 59-run partnership for the opening wicket with Gambhir. (59-1, 7.2)

Mahendra Singh Dhoni came in at number three and immediately India's focus shifted to minimizing risks and taking singles. Bangladesh were suddenly piling on the pressure as they dried up the boundaries for 28 deliveries as India reached 76 for one at the halfway stage.

Perhaps Dhoni felt now was the time to break the shackles and charged down the wicket to Mahmudullah and slammed him for a straight six.

India appeared to be losing the plot after a fine start that saw them hit 54 in the first six overs, but the next six saw just 39 being scored off them.

Gambhir managed to slice off-spinner Naeem Islam through third man for his fourth boundary to take India past the 100-run mark in the 13th over.

But Dhoni perished in the 15th over when he was bowled by Islam for 26. The India captain managed just one six in his 21-ball knock before he stepped down the wicket and was beaten by the flight and bowled. (112-2, 14.3)

He added 53 runs in 43 deliveries for the second wicket with Gambhir, but somehow India had failed to get a move along in the latter part of their partnership.

A subdued Gambhir completed his half-century in the 16th over off 44 delvieriers, inclusive of four boundaries.

Yuvraj (2) got a lifeline early on when wicketkeeper Rahim missed a sharp stumping chance off Shakib in the 16th over. And he made Bangladesh pay dearly for it by slamming three sixes in the next over from Islam to boost India's charge in the final overs.

All three sixes were sent high and soaring over the midwicket fence as the bowler either dropped short or on the left-handers pads.

At the other end, Gambhir gave the bowler some relief when he chipped one straight to the cover fielder. The opener made 50 from 46 deliveries but struggled to get going and fell at just about the right time for his team. (140-3, 17)

Rubel also came in for some rough treatment at the hands of Yuvraj. The left-hander sent a full toss straight back over his head for his third six, followed it up by consecutive boundaries through fine leg to race to 40 from just 15 deliveries.

Just in the course of two overs, Yuvraj had managed to change the script dramatically as India bagged 36 runs off them.

Yuvraj's heroics ended when he lofted Hossain straight to the long-off fielder after a blazing knock of 41 from just 18 deliveries, that included four sixes and three boundaries. (157-4, 18.1)

Suresh Raina stroked one boundary before he was bowled by Rubel for 10 off eight deliveries. (169-5, 19.3)

Irfan Pathan (11 from 3 deliveries) hit a six and boundary in the final over bowled by Rubel to take India to a strong 180 for five in their 20 overs.

It can be said that Yuvraj's blinder made a difference of at least 15-20 runs to the Indian total. The Indian bowlers must be feeling confident of defending this total even though Bangladesh's batsmen troubled the Australians a bit in a warm-up game.

Bangladesh:

Tamim Iqbal welcomed Zaheer Khan back to cricket after an injury break with a couple of boundaries in the first over of the innings. Junaid Siddique then joined in the party when he pulled Irfan Pathan's first delivery in the next over for a six over midwicket to take Bangladesh to 20 after two overs.

Dhoni then took a gamble by bringing in part-timer Yusuf Pathan for the third over to replace Zaheer. And the move paid off instantly when Yusuf struck with the wicket of Tamim, stumped for 15 as the batsman charged down the wicket but missed the ball. (24-1, 2.3)

Yusuf nearly had his second wicket but Ishant Sharma dropped a catch while running backwards at mid-on off Siddique (19).

The left-hander then made India pay for that lapse by launching Yusuf for a huge six through that same region off the very next delivery as Bangladesh raced to 48 for one after five overs.

Ishant made up for his drop somewhat by getting the wicket of Mohammad Ashraful in his first over. The Bangladesh captain, who made 11 from nine deliveries, hit a full, wide delivery straight to the cover fielder in the sixth over. (55-2, 5.4)

Harbhajan Singh got a rousing reception from the crowd when he came in to bowl in the eighth over of the innings, but Siddique was not overawed by it all as he slammed the last ball of Harbhajan's first over for a straight six to race to 40 from 20 deliveries, having hit two fours and three sixes.

But it was all over for Bangladesh in the next over when Pragyan Ojha started with a double-wicket haul in his first over.

Ojha started with the wicket of Shakib (8), who tried to pull a quicker delivery but got a top edge which was pouched by Dhoni. (74-3, 8.1)

The high-flying Siddique fell four deliveries later when he swept one straight to Harbhajan at the midwicket fence after a quick 41 from 22 deliveries, with two boundaries and three sixes. (77-4, 8.5)

Mahmudullah struggled against the spinners, scoring just 8, before he was brilliantly caught by Yuvraj at short fine leg off Ojha. (95-5, 12.4)

Ojha, it seems, relished bowling in such conditions as he registered wonderful figures of three for 12 in his first three overs, with Bangladesh reeling on 96 for five after 13 overs.

Harbhajan could have figured among the wickets but Yuvraj grassed a simple catch. Raqibul Hasan (11) tried a sweep but got a top edge which lobbed straight to Yuvraj, who unbelievably dropped it.

Mortaza came out with some intent as he slammed Ojha straight down the ground for a huge six. But the left-arm spinner had his revenge when he bowled Mortaza for 11 to end with superb figures of four for 21 in four overs. (111-6, 14.4)

Zaheer also got a much-needed boost on his comeback when he claimed the wicket of Raqibul Hasan for 16 in his third over. (121-7, 16.2)

Naeem Islam brought some cheer to the Bangladesh dressing room with consecutive sixes off Ishant in the final over of the innings. But it was the fast bowler, who had the final laugh when he had Islam caught at long-on for 28 from 17 deliveries. (154-8, 19.5)

Bangladesh finished on 155 for eight in their 20 overs and lost by 25 runs.

With the tournament having already seen two upsets, India brought their A-game into play and made sure Bangladesh never even had a sniff of a chance in the contest. They way they outplayed the minnows in every department should serve as a big boost for the upcoming matches.

The champions play Ireland in their final group match on Wednesday, June 10.

Harish Kotian in Nottinghham
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