It looked like India would reach the original victory target of 273 unscathed. Robin Uthappa and Ajinkya Rahane were batting with ridiculous ease against some very pedestrian Bangladesh bowling. Only a mistake could have separated them and umpire Enamul Haque made one to terminate Uthappa’s innings.
India had raced to 99/0 in 16 overs when Shakib Al Hasan appealed for a leg before decision against Uthappa. The Indian opener had inside-edged the arm ball onto his pads but the umpire raised his finger. Then the rains arrived before the over could be finished, making the first ODI at Sher-e-Bangla Stadium in Mirpur on Sunday a truncated affair.
India were 100 for one in 16.4 overs when play stopped, and despite a two-and-a-half hours rain delay, during which it poured so heavily that it appeared as if resumption would be impossible, the excellent drainage ensured that the game would not be called off. India was set a revised target of 150 runs in 26 overs.
This meant that they faced a slightly tricky passage of play. They needed a further 50 runs at almost a run a ball.
Cheteshwar Pujara got out in the second ball after resumption to another dubious leg before decision by the same umpire but Rahane and Ambati Rayudu kept their composure. When Rahane fell after compiling his own fifty, stand-in skipper Suresh Raina put the finishing touches with back-to-back fours to secure a seven-wicket win with seven balls to spare.
Uthappa and Rahane’s 99-run first wicket partnership made the job easy. The former was returning to the Indian ODI fold after six years and got going with a glide to the third man boundary off Al-Amin Hossain in the fourth over. He followed it up with an on-drive between the bowler and mid-on for another four. Uthappa’s fifty, his sixth in this format, came in 42 balls with three fours and as many sixes.
Rahane misses out
Rahane was circumspect to start with but soon joined the party by getting down the wicket to Mashrafe Mortaza and dispatching him to the mid-on fence.
His first six was exquisite — an effortless drive over extra cover. A 70-ball 64 (5X4, 2X6) and two very good catches gave him the Man of the Match award, which was well earned.
Earlier, Bangladesh made 272 for nine after Mushfiqur Rahim chose to bat first on a slow pitch. At 235 for eight and just 23 balls remaining, the hosts seemed cornered. But India didn’t have their fast bowlers available to bowl the death-overs. Mohit Sharma limped off in his fourth over and then returned to bowl just two more.
Umesh Yadav suffered a cramp towards the end and couldn’t finish his quota. He, however, was impressive in his first spell, bowling with pace to rattle the Bangladesh top order.
Tamim Iqbal, however, was unfortunate to be given out caught behind when he had missed a Yadav delivery by some distance, the bat actually hitting the pad. The fast bowler bagged his second with a very good outswinger that had Mominul Haque fishing at it.
Bangladesh looked jittery at 35 for two in the 11th over but a 52-run third wicket partnership between Anamul Haque (44) and Rahim (59) helped steady the ship. Shakib (52) and Mahmudullah (41) took it from there and set the platform for a late assault before getting out at a wrong time.
For India, Akshar Patel and Parvez Rasool made their debuts and contributed well.
The latter became the first player from Jammu and Kashmir to play for the country and after a shaky start he found his rhythm to return figures of two for 60 in 10 overs.
Meanwhile, left-arm spinner Patel took one for 59 in his 10. And along with Amit Mishra (two for 55), they ensured that though they went for runs, they had wickets to show for their effort. This eventually meant that Bangladesh could never really get away to a mammoth total.