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Sunday, 20 February 2011

World Cup 2011: India beat Bangladesh by 87 runs

It was dadagiri of a different kind as Virender Sehwag stood and delivered, the last part of a brilliantly-crafted innings of 175 on virtually one leg, as Team India buried Bangladesh under a deluge of runs in the opening match of the 2011 World Cup at the Shere-e-Bangla National Stadium here on Saturday. 
Put into bat by Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan, the Indian innings was powered by the flamboyant Sehwag and a wonderfully-paced unbeaten century by young Virat Kohli. Bangladesh, left with a mountain to climb after India finished with 370 for four, made a bold attempt to chase down the target, but went down fighting by 87 runs.

Tamim Iqbal (70), Imrul Kayes (34), Junaid Siddique (37) and Shakib (55) kept Bangladesh in the game till the half-way stage, but the 'Tigers', who had too much to do, kept falling behind the asking rate before fading out.

Skipper MS Dhoni's decision to play a third pacer, in place of a spinner, almost backfired on him. S Sreesanth, who was drafted into the playing XI at the last moment, ahead of leg-spinner Piyush Chawla, sprayed the ball around and gave away as many as 53 runs in his first five overs. With Zaheer Khan, too not at his best, Bangladesh got off to a flying start. But for Munaf Patel, who finished with four wickets for 48 runs, India would have struggled more on a placid track that eased out considerably after soaking in the early evening dew.

Shakib's decision to field first was obviously prompted by the fact that in the 16 previous D/N ODIs here, the team batting second had won on 13 occasions, but the home team was let down by their two new-ball bowlers --- Shafiul Islam and Rubel Hossain. The new-ball duo not only bowled too short and wide, but also strayed down the leg side too often to cause any discomfort to Sehwag or Sachin Tendulkar.

Sehwag was the more fluent of the two, but with Shakib pressing left-arm spinner Abdur Razzak into action after just four overs and the ball refusing to come on to the bat, the Indian opener struggled to get his timing right. Sachin looked at complete ease during his 29-ball stay at the wicket which ended in a comical run out with both batsmen at the non-striker's end. It was hardly the maestro's fault, but Sehwag more than made amends for his misdeed.

He tempered his incandescent strokeplay with a fair de gree of caution, drove straight and mostly along the ground, employing occasional cheeky chip shots when the field was up. His association with Gautam Gambhir yielded 83 runs off 75 balls with the latter contributing a run-a-ball 39 before playing all over an innocuous Mahmudullah delivery.

Sehwag, allowed Kohli ample time to settle down by farming the strike and doing bulk of the scoring, but once the youngster found his bearings, he matched the senior pro stroke for stroke to put Bangla bowlers under the cosh.

Sehwag, who has never batted through an ODI innings, narrowly failed to achieve his goal. By the time he fell in the 48th over, India had enough runs on the board to prevent a repeat of 2007.

A gentle flick to the leg off Mahmudullah brought up Sehwag's second hundred in World Cup in the 34th over, and despite calling for a runner after being struck on his knee, Sehwag and Kohli continued to spank the Bangla bowlers, garnering 47 runs from the batting Power Play which was taken in the 35th over.

With Sehwag showing no signs of slowing down even after bettering his personal best score of 146, scored against Sri Lanka in Rajkot in 2009, and and Kohli stepping up a gear or two, Shakib could do little to stop the plunder.

Sourav Ganguly's 183, the highest score by an Indian in World Cup, survived only because the Delhi dasher dragged a wide ball from Shakib on to his stumps, leaving Kohli to notch up his maiden hundred on World Cup debut in the company of Yusuf Pathan.

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