Tuesday, Nov 25, 2014

Asia Cup 2014: Stand-in skipper stands out as India humble Bangladesh by six wickets

Virat Kohli celebrates after reaching the three-figure mark during the match against Bangladesh on Wednesday (AP) Virat Kohli celebrates after reaching the three-figure mark during the match against Bangladesh on Wednesday (AP)
Written by Shamik Chakrabarty | New Delhi | Posted: February 26, 2014 1:26 pm | Updated: February 27, 2014 1:35 am

After India were reduced to 54 for two in 12.5 overs, chasing 280 for victory, it became imperative that captain Virat Kohli stayed till the end, score big and see the side through. Kohli didn’t finish things off, but by the time he got out, after scoring 136 off 122 balls, India had already won the game. Any apprehension about the stand-in skipper being bogged down by the added responsibility were dispelled at the Fatullah Cricket Stadium’s dew-sodden outfield on Wednesday. It was Kohli’s 12th ton in a successful run chase and 19th overall in ODIs, which put him on par with Brian Lara. On Wednesday, he went about his task very methodically and made most out of the loose balls. His innings was laced with 16 fours and two sixes and he had a strike rate of 111.

There was just a half-chance when Kohli was on 35, but Rubel Hossain at square-leg dived over the ball and let the opportunity slip.

The latter somewhat made up for his error by sneaking through the defence of India captain but it was a little too late.

A Score to settle

India had some score to settle. Two years ago in the Asia Cup here, they lost to the hosts. And ahead of this game, there were some big talks from the Bangladesh camp with medium pacer Mashrafe Mortaza taking a dig at their more fancied rivals, saying it would not be an upset for Bangladesh to beat India. Normal service was restored on Wednesday. Ajinkya Rahane, preferred over Cheteshwar Pujara despite scoring 2, 3, 3, 36 and 7 in his last five ODIs, responded positively. An 83-ball 73 was classy but Rahane would be disappointed to perish softly — a tame scoop to long-on with just eight runs left for victory. “I backed myself. Also, I scored a century in the last Test in New Zealand and carried forward that confidence into this game,” said Rahane.

Together, he and Kohli added 213 runs in 32.5 overs for the third wicket to help India get back to winning ways after a series of losses. Their stand also silenced about 17,000-odd fans who turned up at this small venue. Most of them started to leave midway into India’s run chase.

The pitch was good for batting, though the odd ball kept low. Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan began steadily but once again they wasted their starts. Dhawan went first when he played over a straight delivery from left-arm spinner Abdur Razzak and was caught plumb in front. Rohit was bowled through the gate by Ziaur Rahman. Bangladesh were just one more wicket away from putting India under serious pressure, but Kohli and Rahane didn’t let that happen. In the end, the six-wicket win looked very continued…

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