Rohit Sharma is not only having a dream World Cup but has, with more than a little bit of help from the bowlers, taken India to their third semifinal in a row. Consider some of his achievements: four hundreds in the World Cup (two more than David Warner), second Indian to tally more than 500 runs in a World Cup (Tendulkar did it twice), most ODI hundreds since 2017 (16 to Kohli’s 15), most number of sixes by an Indian in ODIs (238, two more than Dhoni). All this with an almost ridiculous nonchalance to his batting.
Sharma put on the highest opening partnership of any team in this World Cup, adding 180 runs in a little over 29 overs with K L Rahul, to set up the match-winning total of 314. India did slip up after Sharma’s fall, adding only 136 runs and losing eight more wickets in the remaining overs but that only accentuates India’s dependence on Sharma in this tournament.
Bangladesh will rue the way they bowled in the first half of the innings — erratic in line and length, bowling either short or slipped down leg and Sharma capitalised in some style. Even Rahul, who has had an average tournament so far, especially as an opener, cashed in though he didn’t look as secure as Sharma.
Sharma hit five sixes but the best one was the lofted straight hit off the left-handed seamer Mustafizur Rehman in the 23rd over. And he clearly enjoyed it the most, holding his pose for a while as he watched the white ball sail away over the sightscreen.
Bangladesh will also rue the reprieve they offered Sharma who miscued a leg-side swing when he was on nine, but Tamim Iqbal dropped a fairly straightforward chance at deep midwicket. Considering the way the rest of India batted, who knows what would have happened had that catch been taken.
It wasn’t the first time Sharma has had some luck in this tournament. In all, he has been dropped in four games, all came fairly early in his knocks and he has always made the opposition pay for it.
In India’s first match, South Africa dropped him on 1 (he made 122), Australia dropped him on 2 and he added 55 more runs, England fluffed a chance in the second over and he rattled up 102 — and now Bangladesh have seen him whistle through another hundred.
Perhaps it’s the pressure of getting his wicket that has created the errors in the first place. Every team knows that if they take Sharma out early, half the job is done.
Despite the win, India have lots to ponder about their batting but the bowling has been above reproach.
Every time Bangladesh offered some resistance, Indian bowlers pegged them back. Tamim Iqbal looked comfortable in the 39-run opening stand but Mohammad Shami bowled him off the inside edge. Then, when Liton Das gave support to the rampaging Shakib Al Hasan, pushing the score to 162, Hardik Pandya took him out.
Soon, Pandya delivered the sucker punch when he took out Shakib with a slower one to leave Bangladesh struggling at 179 for 6. They recovered with a 66-run partnership between Mohammad Saifuddin and Sabbir Rehman but Jasprit Bumrah pegged back Rehman’s stumps to push Bangladesh further back in the chase. And though Mohammad Saifuddin remained unbeaten on 51, he ran out of partners as India won by 28 runs and pushed Bangladesh out of the World Cup.