Melbourne, Mar 19:
Unbeaten India stormed into the semi final of the ICC World Cup 2015 beating hapless Bangladesh by a thumping 109 runs at the iconic MCG here this evening.
India’s bowlers, who have been the flavour of the season, gave no respite to the Bangladeshi batsmen and did not allow them to stitch any partnership that could have threatened to overhaul the imposing total of 302 it scored. The highest partnership of 60 was for the seventh wicket.
Umesh Yadav, bowling with pace and venom, was the pick of the bowlers picking up four wickets for just 31 runs in 9 overs with a miserly economy rate of 3.44. Mohammed Shami, was also his usual efficient stuff picking up the crucial wickets of Mahmudullah (21) and Soumya Sarkar (29) for just 37 off his eight overs. With this haul, the UP bowler has now edged past Australia’s Micahel Starch and moved to the top of the heap among bowlers in this World Cup with a haul of 17 wickets.
Ravindra Jadeja scalped two wickets while Mohit Sharma picked up one to complete the rout.
Earlier, Rohit sharma scored a high-class century to take India to an imposing total of 302/6 in its 50 overs.
Sharma was forced to score a subdued hundred by some high-quality defensive bowling from Bangladesh, but he went from 60 off 80 to 137 off 126 to take India to the second-highest score in a World Cup knockout match.
Suresh Raina played his part by stinging Bangladesh in a concentrated attack of 65 off 57, and Ravindra Jadeja made sure the momentum continued with a 23 off 10 in the end. Bangladesh showed they were no pushovers with high-intensity bowling and fielding between the 10th and 30th over, but the wheels came off towards the end with possibly everything, including the umpiring, going India’s way.
India had only just started to look threatening with 41 runs in 4.3 overs of the batting Powerplay when Rohit hit a full toss straight down deep midwicket’s throat. This was the time when for a split second Bangladesh thought they could work at wresting back the control, but to their horror they saw square-leg umpire Aleem Dar had called a no-ball. Replays showed Rohit had met the ball waist-high well in front of his normal stance, and the ball was on its way down. Not only was it not a no-ball, it was inconsistent that the on-field umpire made such a hurried call when extreme caution has been the norm. Nine out of 10 times in modern cricket, Rohit would have been given out after replays; this just happened to be the 10th occasion.
Rohit was 90 off 101 when he was reprieved. India were 196 in the 40th over. Bangladesh were looking at MS Dhoni and Jadeja, who have not been in the best hitting form, for the last 10 overs. Instead they had to contend with some exquisite stroke-play from Rohit. The mayhem in the end all added up to nearly double the 35-over score of 155 for 3. Rohit’s three sixes took him to joint-fifth-highest at MCG, his average of 83.75 is the best among those who have scored 250 at the venue where the final will be played, and he became only the third visiting batsman to score two hundreds at the MCG.
Some of Rohit’s hitting in the end was just too good for Bangladesh, they were at the wrong end of the umpiring, but they will rue plays both big and small that hurt them in the end. If this was a tennis match, Bangladesh had done a pretty good impersonation of Rafael Nadal in the first 30 overs. They realised soon enough that this was a flat pitch – the flattest in Australia this summer – and even though India added 75 for the first wicket they defended really well. Shakib Al Hasan and Rubel Hossein kept the intensity up, they were backed up in the field, and the drying of the runs drew three unforced errors from India.
What Nadal does excellently, though, is hit that winner when he has run the opponent ragged. That moment presented itself when Ajinkya Rahane fell trying to force the pace, making it 115 for 3 in the 28th over. That was when you would have expected Bangladesh to attack Raina and the tiring Rohit, but they held back their attacking options. Mashrafe Mortaza, their captain who has never looked 100% fit in the tournament, came on to bowl. It took Bangladesh 42 balls to bowl Raina his first bouncer. It was duly top-edged. Raina, though, had galloped away to 41 off 41 by then after a slow start of 13 off 25.
Other small little things were not paid attention to either. The fielders inside the circle sat back on the ring allowing easy singles, the bowlers did nothing to stop Raina backing up too far and too early at the non-striker’s end, the fielders threw at Dhoni’s end even when Rohit was struggling with fitness, and when you would have expected them to cut the single with Rohit on 99 they actually bowled a no-ball because they didn’t have enough men inside the circle.
Don’t take much away from Rohit and Raina, though. They were under high pressure of the stifling bowling of a side with not much to lose in the big knockout game. They were both forced to play a game against their nature. They waited and waited, and then they exploded in the Powerplay. The intent was unmistakable. Raina charged at the first ball of the Powerplay, and drove it over extra cover. It helped that it was Mortaza’s gentle pace, and not Rubel’s quickness. He again targeted the first ball of the next over, sending Shakib over long-on. The pressure was squarely on Bangladesh, and just when they thought they had caught a break the umpires let them down.
Rohit then unleashed some artistic late-overs hitting. He saw Raina get out to a slower ball, he saw Dhoni struggle for timing, he was himself exhausted by the effort – physically and arguably mentally – but he exposed gaps in the field beautifully. Without violence he scored 25 off the last nine balls he faced, and Jadeja provided the finishing touches in the end. Bangladesh, after having competed well for at least 30 of the 50 overs, were now left chasing what has never been successfully chased at MCG.