MELBOURNE (TIP): The Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) danced to the roll of drums when the players took the field. Then came the beat of the dhols as India began batting, followed by what sounded like a jugalbandi between the two. After a while, cacophony prevailed.
India won the toss and elected to bat first. The dhols grew louder. Bangladesh got Shikhar Dhawan for 30. The drumbeats took over. Virat Kohli departed for just three.
The drumming turned into a frenzy. Suresh Raina joined Rohit Sharma. The dhols were back. A 122-run partnership gave India the momentum. The drumbeats gradually went silent. Rohit Sharma came up with a classy 137. The dhols reverberated in the sky.
The cacophony was melody to India’s ears as they beat Bangladesh by 109 runs on Thursday to enter the semifinals. They will now play the winner of the clash between Australia and Pakistan in Sydney on March 26.
Sweat rolled down thick coats of maroon and green painted on the faces of Bangladesh fans who arrived earlier than those manning the MCG gates in the afternoon. By the time the match approached its end, they were the ones who left early, trying to avoid the exiting MCG rush that would be full of partying Indians.
To the Mumbai boy they all raised a toast, chanting ‘Rohit, Rohit’ in praise of a century that put India on course to victory. Along with Dhawan, the elegant Sharma was patient in approach. The first 50 runs took 10 overs to come and India had 75 on the board when they lost the first wicket.
Virat Kohli joined Rohit but left soon, making way for Ajinkya Rahane who did not stay too long either. The MCG pitch, while resembled a neat highway, turned out to be trickier than expected. And it wasn’t until the in-form Suresh Raina walked in that a partnership of value began.
Raina took the initiative, finding gaps that were in plenty and then Rohit Rohit decided to cut loose. A healthy 202 runs came in the last 24.1 overs. In the end, India cruised, strolled and crawled past 300, a target that has never been chased at the massive ‘G’.
Bangladesh began on a positive note, particularly opener Tamim Iqbal smashing three fours off a rattled Mohammed Shami in the fourth over. But the pressure of a chase under lights proved too heavy for Bangladesh.
A very disciplined Umesh Yadav, bowling at good pace, picked 4-37 while Shami and Ravindra Jadeja shared two each. It was R Ashwin, though, who ended up being the most economical as India won comfortably.