India In Semi's to face Pakistan or Australia

Written by  Published by:Pakistan Views Thursday, 19 March 2015 20:01

India’s 109-run win over Bangladesh was a comprehensive step towards a second consecutive World Cup final appearance and further strengthened the belief in players and fans that their team “won’t give it back”.

Bangladesh had come into the quarter-final in exceptional form, having knocked England out of the tournament and run the undefeated Black Caps close just days later, but a near faultless bowling performance was ultimately not enough.

While India won by a comfortable buffer, sealing its place in a semi-final against either Australia or Pakistan in Sydney next Thursday, there were some key moments along the way.

Virat veers wide 

After 17 overs it was all going India’s way. MS Dhoni had won the toss, the score was 75-0, and Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma looked solid.

Then a wild charge down the crease went astray for Dhawan as he missed the ball and some snappy glove work from Mushfiqur Rahim saw him caught out of his crease.

One wicket was a breakthrough for Bangladesh but not a heavy blow, given the serious strength of India’s batting line-up. 

But a major moment for Bangladesh came in the next over when Virat Kohli looked to get his innings going with a bang, attempting a lusty cover drive but playing too far from his body and succeeding only in edging to Mushfiqur. 

Bangladesh had the India vice-captain out for just three runs, the score was 79-2 and the Tigers had all the ascendancy. 

If there was any doubt about how important this was to Bangladesh, Rubel made it perfectly clear when he gave Kohli one of the most enthusiastic send-offs of the tournament.

Responsible Rohit

Rohit Sharma had not had the most impressive tournament heading into the quarter-final, having scored 159 runs to be fifth on India’s runs tally. 

But ever the man to rise to the occasion, Sharma stayed and weathered some excellent Bangladesh bowling, bringing up his fifty off a careful 70 balls.

He held his nerve while Dhawan, Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane and Suresh Raina fell around him, remaining a crucial man in as Bangladesh took wickets at vital stages and pegged India back.

Then, as the Bangladesh pressure eased slightly and the power play began, Sharma accelerated and after the ‘blink and you will miss it’ rain delay, the runs began flowing.

Sharma brought up his first World Cup century much to the delight of the extremely vocal Melbourne crowd.

He then added a further 37 before being dismissed, going from 60 off 80 balls to 137 off 126 in a crucial innings that proved the difference between the teams.


Muddle in the middle 

India’s total of 302-6 was, in the words of MS Dhoni, a “par score”. 

Having produced excellent batting performances against both England and New Zealand, Bangladesh had every opportunity to chase down the total and pull off the biggest upset of the tournament.

Tamim Iqbal looked good early and had Bangladesh in a strong position after six overs at 31-0. But its hopes were dealt an early blow when Tamim went for one big shot too many, attempting a drive but instead sending a fine edge to Dhoni.

One wicket was a blow for Bangladesh, but it became a whole lot worse for Bangladesh one ball later when a disastrous mix-up between Soumya Sarkar and Imrul Kayes resulted in the latter being caught well short of his crease.

A second wicket in as many balls and suddenly chasing a total of 300 looked a much more difficult task.

Shikhar Dhawan’s juggling act

Even with two early wickets lost, there was still plenty of hope for Bangladesh in the form of Mohammad Mahmudullah.

The man who secured crucial victories for Bangladesh and who had been largely responsible for thrusting it into the historic quarter-final showdown with India, Mahmudullah held the key for his team.

A third century in a row and the game could have been Bangladesh’s for the taking.

It was going to take something special to remove the in-form batsmen, but special was indeed produced.

A hook shot from Mahmudullah was top-edged but still looked as though it could carry all the way for a maximum, but as it fell close to the boundary Shikhar Dhawan managed to pull off an unbelievable catch. 

He fumbled the ball - his foot perilously close to the boundary rope - flicked it into the air, stepped over the boundary and then back on to the safety of the field before claiming the catch. 

The third umpire was consulted before Mahmudullah departed for 21, leaving his team 73-3.

Dhoni delights 

The next vital blow dealt by India came courtesy of the captain himself. With three wickets down and 90 runs on the board, with talented batsmen Soumya and Shakib Al Hasan at the crease, Bangladesh remained in the game.

Then, in the 21st over, Soumya found himself outdone by a well-directed bouncer, sending an edge wide towards Dhoni.

The 33-year-old ‘keeper proved he still has the spring in his step to pull of amazing catches, diving horizontal to the ground to pull off a stunning catch.

The fourth wicket was lost and with another 203 runs left to chase, the semi-final was all but safely in India’s hands. 

India’s legion of devoted fans erupted and remained elated for the remaining 24.2 overs of the match and for a long time after, staying on in droves to cheer as Sharma accepted his player of the match award and celebrate India taking another step towards back-to-back World Cups.

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