Rohit Sharma’s innings in the second T20 international at Rajkot on Thursday, offered a throwback to Sachin Tendulkar’s mauling of Henry Olonga at Sharjah 21 years ago. Olonga had bounced out Tendulkar in the previous game, hurting his pride. The great man took out his anger on the Zimbabwe fast bowler.
In Delhi, for the first time India had lost a T20I against Bangladesh. A young side notwithstanding, the stand-in skipper wasn’t too pleased with the result. It showed when India were fielding today. Rohit gave Shreyas Iyer a dressing-down after the latter’s throw ricocheted off the stumps and went for an extra run. Then, as another throw from the deep reached wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant on the half-volley, the captain didn’t look impressed. And probably to drive home his point he lobbed one to the ‘keeper from the deep.
In Delhi, Rohit got out for nine – a rare failure. Here, with India playing to stay alive, he decimated the Bangladesh bowling during his 43-ball 85 that had six sixes and as many fours. His fifty came off just 23 deliveries. In a 118-run opening wicket partnership between him and Shikhar Dhawan, the latter’s contribution was 31 off 27 balls. It was Rohit’s 100th T20I and a century would have been befitting for the occasion. But he wouldn’t mind, for when he departed in the 13th over, victory was all but secured. Big players become even more dangerous when their pride is hurt.
Chasing 154 for victory, India were home with 26 balls remaining, winning by eight wickets to level the series. Rohit’s sublimity in front of 28,000 fans earned him the Man of the Match award. But the prize should have gone to Yuzvendra Chahal, because he was the game-changer on the night. Chahal’s bowling – his googlies and pace variation – took the wind out of the visitors’ sail and forced them to surrender the advantage.
Khaleel taken to the cleaners
Bangladesh, after being sent in, were 54 for no loss at the end of the Powerplay. Young Mohammad Naim had taken Khaleel Ahmed to the cleaners and the hosts were under pressure. Chahal should have had Liton Das in his very first over. The Bangladesh opener had charged out to hit a tossed-up delivery but failed to make any contact. Pant whipped the bails off but he had collected the ball in front of the stumps. Third umpire Anil Chaudhary rightly called it a no-ball, and to rub salt into the wound, Das scored a boundary off the free-hit followed by another four next ball. Pant was nicely set up for a customary social media backlash.
In the first T20I, Krunal Pandya’s dropped catch had proved to be the turning point. Here, with India already under the pump, Pant, always under scrutiny because he is MS Dhoni’s replacement, made a serious error. Chahal extended a helping hand. He bowled a fabulous googly in his next over and trapped Das plumb in front. Umpire C Shamshuddin somehow wasn’t convinced and with the bowler and the ‘keeper in the middle of a vigorous appeal, Das set off for a non-existent single. Pant was alert to the situation and he was quicker than Das. The run-out gave India the breakthrough they needed. As for Pant, the run-out was the saving grace, as the 22-year-old otherwise didn’t have a good day at the office. Chahal changed the game in the 13th over, removing Mushfiqur Rahim and Soumya Sarkar inside five deliveries. Rahim had won the match for the visitors at Feroz Shah Kotla. In Rajkot, he fell to a trap.
The deep mid-wicket was placed a little squarer to collect a mistimed sweep, and as Chahal bowled full on the off stump, Rahim took the bait. The leggie’s reaction to the dismissal showed how badly India wanted to win this game. They made mistakes on the field. Catches were dropped and misfields happened. But Chahal’s bowling followed by Rohit’s batting more than made up for the slip-ups.
When Pant crossed the line
When the umpires disallowed Rishabh Pant’s stumping, despite the batsman Liton Das almost half way down the pitch, they were invoking a less-discussed old law. The problem concerned Pant’s point of collection. Law 27.3.1 states that ‘the wicketkeeper shall remain wholly behind the wicket from the moment the ball comes into play until it touches the bat or passes the wicket at the striker’s end’. In other words, the wicket-keeper needs to be behind the stumps while gathering the ball. Replays showed, Pant had his gloves slightly ahead of the stumps at the time of ‘collection’. Instead of waiting for the ball to pass the wicket, anxiousness had got the better of the young wicket-keeper. This resulted in his hands crossing the line of the stumps. It caught the sharp eyes of the umpires, who went by the book, and ruled it a no-ball. Das survived the scare and got a life.
Sarkar fell to a Chahal googly, as he danced down the track and missed the slog. Yet again, the matter was sent upstairs to check if Pant had collected the ball in front of the stumps. And when the third umpire pressed the not out button by mistake, Rohit looked agitated. An immediate correction was made, but as Sunil Gavaskar said, Pant should work on this aspect of his ‘keeping. After three overs, Chahal had two wickets for 24 runs. He bowled his fourth at the death and conceded only four more runs. The leg-spinner was the reason why Bangladesh finished on a below par 153 for six after 20 overs. Spare a thought for Washington Sundar. The 20-year-old regularly bowls inside Powerplays. Today, he came in the fourth over, when Bangladesh were on top. And he gave away only 25 runs in his four overs, accounting for Naim. Between the 8th and the 13th over, Bangladesh scored 44 runs and lost four wickets. That’s where they lost the initiative.
Brief Scores: Bangladesh 153 /6 (Naim 36, Sarkar 30, Mahmudullah 30, Chahal 2-28) lost to India 154/2 (Rohit 85, Dhawan 31, Aminul 2-29) beat by eight wickets.