NEW DELHI (TIP): Powered by skipper Virat Kohli’s stupendous 136-run innings, India registered a massive 6-wicket victory over Bangladesh in their Asia Cup match in Fatullah on february 26. Chasing solid 280-run target, India were boosted by an impeccable 213-run partnership between Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane that saw the former reach his 19th ODI century with the help of 16 smashing boundaries and two scintillating sixes. Rahane (73) too complimented Kohli’s dazzling century with a half-century of his own that took 64 balls and was comfortable to see India through to victory after the skipper was dismissed at the fag end. India earlier faced a major setback as they lost openers Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma in consecutive overs.
Shikhar (28) was the first scalp when Abdur Razzak was successful in catching him plumb soon after he and Rohit Sharma helped India cross the 50-run mark in the 12th over. In the very next over, Ziaur Rahman got the better of Rohit’s (21) stumps. Shikhar and Rohit gave India a cautious start after Mushfiqur Rahim led from the front earlier with a sparkling century to propel Bangladesh to 279/7. Mushfiqur, who smashed 117 off 113 balls, was grounded after being hit on his ribs by a nasty beamer by Varun Aaron, but the diminutive captain showed enough resilience to complete his second ODI century, a first for Bangladesh against India since Alok Kapali’s ton in the 2008 Asia Cup.
The 25-year-old started his innings patiently with Anamul going freely at the other end, but after the opener’s dismissal, the skipper came into his own, hitting two sixes and seven fours. The duo was involved in a 133-run third wicket partnership that came after Bangladesh were reduced to 49/2 in the 13th over. Despite the big partnership though, the lower order failed to fire against a side that boasts of a strong batting line-up. Mohammad Shami was the pick of Indian bowlers, scalping 4/50 from his quota while it was a flop show for Aaron, who gave away 74 runs before being barred after 7.5 overs for two waist high deliveries, with one of them hitting Mushfiqur.
A less than seven thousand crowd in a 17,000 capacity stadium in Narayangonj district in the southern suburbs of Dhaka did not exactly give it a home-like feel for Bangladesh, as India opted for a run-chase. A disciplined Shami, who made the first breakthrough in the form of Shamsur Rahman (7) and Ashwin’s first-ball wicket after a brilliant stumping by Karthik, reduced the hosts to 49/2 in the 13th over and for a moment it seemed like Bangladesh were playing away from home with the stadium not even half-filled. But the young Anamul turned it around with his array of strokes in a sensible third-wicket partnership with Mushfiqur as the duo got past their individual half centuries.
Some mindless bowling by India’s third pacer Aaron, who chose raw pace over disciplined length, did not help the side’s cause as Anamul danced down the track to smash the bowler over long-on for two sixes. Aaron was bowling well past the 140kph mark but his length was easily picked by up the promising 21-year-old. The listless India pacer conceded 39 runs from his first spell of five overs. To add to the woes, Aaron was barred from bowling from the fifth ball of his eighth over after a second waist-high beamer that floored the Bangla skipper after hitting on his left side ribs. Aaron leaked 74 from 7.5 overs in two spells, which incidentally was the second highest conceded by a bowler against Bangladesh after UAE’s Khurram Khan (78).
The only bright spot in Aaron’s bowling is that he denied the impressive Anamul a second International century after the Bangla batsman played on. The innings then belonged to Mushfiqur, who showed resolute spirit despite being hit badly to complete the milestone century for Bangladesh. Earlier, a lovely display of line and length bowling by Shami greeted the hosts, and the first one hour was a testing time for both the openers. Persisting with an off-stump line, Shami found some outside edges that went in the vacant slip region as the Bangla duo looked tentative to start with. Shami got the desired result when his short ball was mistimed by Shamsur to be taken by the bowler.