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Worldcup 2011 – India vs Bangladesh: Sehwag And Kohli Sink Bangladesh In Opener

By on February 19, 2011

India 370 for 4 (Sehwag 175, Kohli 100*) beat Bangladesh 283 for 9 (Tamim 70, Shakib 55, Munaf 4-48) by 87 runs…

There was no reprise of the 2007 upset at Port of Spain in the opening game of this World Cup. Instead, Virender Sehwag and Virat Kohli gave evidence of the havoc this Indian batting line-up can create during centuries that demoralised Bangladesh’s bowlers. Shakib Al Hasan’s men failed to maintain their composure in the grandest match of their lives and conceded a total beyond the reach of their batting abilities.

There was wisdom in Bangladesh choosing to chase – the previous 12 day-night matches at the Shere Bangla were won by the team batting second – but their bowlers were wayward on a slow pitch that kept low and had loopy bounce not conducive to shot-making. Shakib wanted to keep India below 260 when he put them in because of the dew factor later in the evening. He watched the target surge past that as Sehwag and Kohli, who justified his captain’s decision to leave out Suresh Raina, dismantled the attack in front of a shell-shocked crowd and powered India to 370.

Bangladesh, however, did not go quietly. Faced with an impossible chase, Imrul Kayes attacked from the outset after which Tamim Iqbal and Shakib took charge. They set off at a sprint, swinging fearlessly, edging luckily, and brought cheer to their supporters. What Bangladesh failed to do, though, was sustain the aggression for as long as Sehwag did, and the asking-rate soared irreversibly out of reach.

With a withering back-foot drive, Sehwag had slammed the first ball of the tournament to the cover boundary, the opening move of his maiden century against Bangladesh silencing a boisterous Mirpur crowd. Shafiul had given Sehwag too much width, and in his second over he strayed twice on to Sachin Tendulkar’s pads with dire consequences. His day would not get better and he conceded 69 off seven.

India raced to 36 after four overs, forcing Shakib to turn to his premier spinner, Abdur Razzak, in the fifth. Razzak looped the ball into Sehwag from round the wicket, following the batsman and cramping him for room as he tried hit inside out through the off side. Sehwag had scored 12 off his first six balls and 13 off his next 24.

Bangladesh were listless, though, as Sehwag regained his touch and never lost it again, but they also had some good fortune. A mix-up, during which both Tendulkar and Sehwag were ball-watching, left both batsmen at one end and the Mirpur crowd found its voice again.

Sehwag, however, continued piercing gaps and hit the tournament’s first six, hoisting Razzak over wide long-on to reach fifty off 45 balls. With Gautam Gambhir, Sehwag added 83 to build on the opening stand of 69. While Sehwag used muscle, Gambhir played with precision – dabbing, pushing and chipping into gaps. His dismissal for a run-a-ball 39, bowled by a straight one from Mahmudullah, was against the run of play.

The exceptional feature of Kohli’s innings was his driving. On a surface this slow, he reached the pitch of the ball, gathering momentum with a forward thrust of his body, and drove crisply through the off side with a whip of his wrists. He did it against pace and spin, scoring effortlessly at more than a run a ball. In the 33rd over, Kohli drove Naeem Islam twice to the cover boundary and pulled him behind square, placing the ball just wide of the fielders each time. India took their Powerplay after the mandatory ball change and scored 48 for 0 during the fielding restrictions.

At one stage Sehwag, who had Gambhir running for him because of an injury, had a shot at a double-century. He fell in the 48th over, though, almost making good his pledge to bat through the innings. Kohli continued to motor towards a hundred in his first World Cup match and got there off the penultimate ball of the innings, possibly having secured his spot for the rest of the tournament.

The pitch quickened in the evening, making shot-making easier, and the dew greased the outfield, making the ball harder to grip. But Bangladesh’s bowlers had conceded too much ground for their batsmen to regain. They tried, though, and the initial assault on the Indian bowlers was fierce.

The highlight of that brief blitz was the attack on Sreesanth. Kayes edged, flicked pulled and drove him for boundaries, and a wayward wide contributed to Bangladesh taking 24 runs off the fifth over. They were 51 for 0. Kayes then tried to force the slower pace of Munaf Patel, who replaced Sreesanth, through the off side and played on, ending the opening partnership at 56.

Zaheer’s control and the introduction of spin resulted in an increase in dot balls and a reduction in boundaries, and by the half-way stage the asking-rate was already 9.36. Tamim and Shakib completed aggressive half-centuries and the rest of the batsmen also struck the ball fluently during a heartening display. Victory, however, had already escaped them. Bangladesh will hope to reproduce this batting effort in a match in which their bowlers get their act together.

George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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