Virender Sehwag at his marauding best

Virender Sehwag's sparkling century steered India to a comfortable 87-run victory over Bangladesh in the opening match of the World Cup at Mirpur on Saturday.  

Virender Sehwag is a natural galloping on his extraordinary skills. High on octane and low on sympathy, he dents the opponent psychologically. The opener switches on the ignition key and the Indian innings roars to life.

The marauding batsman's rollicking 140-ball 175 and a scintillating unbeaten 83-ball 100 from Virat Kolhi orchestrated India's 87-run victory over Bangladesh in the inaugural match of the ICC ODI World Cup at the Shere-e-Bangla Stadium, here, on Saturday.

Sehwag and Kohli took the match away from Bangladesh with a thrill-a-minute 203-run partnership for the third wicket after Shakib Al Hasan elected to field keeping the dew factor in mind.

Pursuing India's mammoth 370 for four — the highest total in a World Cup opener — the spirited Bangladesh, egged on by a passionate, audience, finished at 283 for nine. Paradoxically, a mountain of runs were made on a surface that played a tad slow with a hint of uneven bounce.

Imrul Kayes' early blitz gave Bangladesh some hope. Kayes (34 off 29 deliveries) punished an erratic Santhakumaran Sreesanth who strove for pace and lost control. India has worries in the pace bowling department with Aashish Nehra nursing a groin strain.

Zaheer Khan, though, was tight in his opening spell. Munaf Patel, denying the batsmen room, consumed Kayes and a battling Tamim Iqbal (70).

Earlier, the tidy Harbhajan Singh beat the well-organised Junaid Siddique with an off-spinner that spun away from the left-hander. Dhoni effected a sharp stumping. Junaid was reprieved early when Yusuf Pathan, running in from mid-wicket, could not hold on to a skier after the batsman miscued Munaf.

Shakib struck some brave blows in his 50-ball 55 but Bangladesh had conceded far too many runs. Earlier, Sehwag sizzled even as the Bangladesh attack fizzled out. Mixing solidity with flair, the aggressive batsman was focussed on batting through a majority of overs.

His back-footed cover-drive of the competition's first delivery, from Shafiul Islam, found the boundary. Sehwag can find gaps with a surgeon's precision.

After an initial period of struggle against Abdul Razzak, he disrupted the line of the Bangladesh left-arm spinners. He sashayed down the track, created room, and essayed the inside-out drives between cover and point.

This was the most significant phase of the innings. When, Razzak and Shakib attempted to change their line, Sehwag responded with powerful blows on the leg-side. Once the Bangladesh left-arm spinners were taken to the cleaners, the bowling wilted. Sehwag, light on feet and heavy with strokes, had broken the attack's back-bone.

He also batted cleverly, collecting the ones and the twos to keep the scoreboard moving before launching into the bigger blows. Sehwag struck both Razzak and Shakib over their heads for boundaries; he has this ability to hit marvellously straight.

Sehwag, eventually, played on to a fuller delivery from Shakib. The opener suffered a bout of cramps in the latter stages of the innings; Gautam Gambhir came in as runner.

Sparkling century

Kohli's century on World Cup debut was a sparkling innings. He used his feet admirably, whether reaching out for the cover drive or dancing down the track to whip the spinners. The cover-drive off off-spinner Mahmudullah scorched the turf.

Displaying clarity of thought, Kolhi was decisive with his footwork. The straight six off Shakib screamed for attention. Off-spinner Naeem was off-driven and pulled.

He is a wristy customer with exemplary bat-speed. Kolhi also appears to be the kind of batsman who relishes the sniff of a battle. He punched the air in jubilation after reaching the three-figure mark in the final over.

Earlier, Tendulkar and Sehwag provided India a firm platform with a 69-run partnership in 10.5 overs that concluded with a mix-up over a single. Sehwag and a fluent Gambhir, who used the depth of the crease well, added another 83 for the second wicket.

The Bangladesh bowling lacked discipline. As many as 16 wides were sent down and the batsmen were provided both width and length. But then, the Sehwag factor can force bowlers to lose the plot.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2022 5:44:43 AM |

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