World Cup

Another Demolition job

A sprawing effort from Imrul Kayes was not good enough to beat Ravindra Jadeja's throw, sparking celebrations.   | Photo Credit: Rick Rycroft

If Rohit Sharma’s World Cup had quietly bubbled under the surface it exploded majestically into the forefront on Thursday. His splendid, vital hundred led India to a 109-run demolition of Bangladesh at the MCG and into the semifinals of the tournament.

India had been struggling until Rohit’s 137 and his stand for the fourth wicket with Suresh Raina lifted the team to a total of 302. The Bangladesh innings was then wrapped up in 45 overs, representing another success for a razor-sharp bowling unit.

The run chase never truly got off the ground. Tamim Iqbal’s flashing, swinging bat produced a few early boundaries but he did not remain for long enough to keep the contest alive. Both openers were, in fact, dismissed off successive deliveries — the hope drained out of Bangladesh in the space of a moment. Umesh Yadav had Tamim edge behind for 25 before Soumya Sarkar and Imrul Kayes were entangled in a sorry misunderstanding.

Mahmudullah, Bangladesh’s heaviest scorer at the tournament, sought to keep a rapidly dying flame alive. He was out for 21, though, pulling Mohammed Shami to be held at fine leg. Dhawan teetered on the edge of the boundary before throwing the ball up in the air, stepping over the rope and jumping back in to complete the catch.

Shami accounted for Sarkar with a sharp, short delivery, M.S. Dhoni taking a rare, diving catch behind the wicket. When Shakib Al Hasan slashed Ravindra Jadeja straight to short third man, India knew the battle was won. Almost unnoticed, R. Ashwin sent down 10 overs for 30, locking up one end and ensuring Bangladesh was never allowed to breathe freely. India duly bowled out yet another opponent.

M.S. Dhoni had chosen to bat first in the afternoon, when Rohit’s seventh one-day ton and his rapid 122-run partnership (96 balls) with Raina helped India to a sizeable total. Before their determined assault in the final third of the innings, though, things had not gone swimmingly for India.

An assured beginning had given way to a dull, strained middle period, when Rubel Hossain and Shakib Al Hasan, in particular, had shackled the batsmen.

The two bowled eight overs in tandem during one phase there, when India lost two for 25. Shikhar Dhawan was stumped for 30 soon after the drinks break, lunging forward to meet Shakib’s delivery and missing the length. Virat Kohli followed him in the next over, chasing and edging a slightly wide ball from Rubel.

Rohit and Ajinkya Rahane subsequently found themselves in a bog, unable to move with any freedom.

India went almost 11 overs without a boundary at one point; from 51 for no loss in 10 overs, the side had ambled to 99 for two in 25. Rahane’s struggle came to an end against Taskin Ahmed when he tried to clear mid-off and failed.

It was in this climate of unease that Rohit and Raina came together. Rohit had completed a 70-ball fifty, a knock that had begun with a few crisp drives before losing its vigour somewhat. He loosened up in Raina’s company and the two set about putting India back on track.

They made full use of the batting Powerplay, which realised 50 runs. Shakib and Rubel, who India had initially seemed unable to score off were cut and driven to the boundary without fuss. Raina was dismissed for 65 (57b), having injected life into a dreary innings.

At the other end, Rohit had been caught on the mid-wicket boundary for 91, but Rubel’s full toss was deemed — rightly or wrongly — to have reached the batsman above waist-level. Rohit was unperturbed and soon raised a 108-ball century.

At once, a weight appeared to have been lifted, and his batting attained a glowing, effortless quality.

There was langour, grace and easy power in the few shots that he played: a delightful push off the back-foot, a slower ball drilled through the covers, and the brightest jewel in the box a smooth off-drive off Rubel — high elbow and all — that sailed far over the long-off boundary.

Rohit was bowled by Taskin three overs from the close, but Ravindra Jadeja made his first significant contribution with the bat as India edged past 300.

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Printable version | Oct 26, 2021 6:14:17 AM |

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