15 June 2014
Rahane, Uthappa star in rain-shortened ODI
India chases down revised target of 150 in 26 overs with seven wickets in hand to take 1-0 lead over Bangladesh
Uthappa made batting look ridiculously easy, cruising to 50 from just 43 balls.
Then torrential rain arrived after 16.4 overs of India’s reply to the home side’s 272 for 9, with the visitors cruising at 100 for 1. And with 20 overs required to constitute a match, it looked like everything would end in frustration.
But if it is meaningless, then someone forgot to tell Robin Uthappa and the Mirpur ground staff.
The latter, led by curator Gamini Silva, performed the seemingly impossible by first covering the whole playing area during the downpour and then mopping up in time to allow a revised chase of 150 in 26 overs at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium on Sunday (June 15). And with man of the match Ajinkya Rahane weighing in 64 from 70 deliveries, India got home with seven wickets and seven balls in hand.
As for Uthappa, he showed how much he relished the opportunity to pull on the India shirt in an ODI for the first time since 2008. He was hungry, ravenous in fact, for another chance at the highest level, and boy, did it show.
That focus was apparent right from the start of the day. It was all about the job at hand, making up for lost time.
Uthappa made batting look ridiculously easy, cruising to 50 from just 43 balls as he continued the form that earned him the Orange Cap as the leading scorer in IPL 7.
Moments later, he was adjudged leg before wicket to Shakib Al Hasan by umpire Enamul Haque to end his stay just before the heavens opened.
Cheteshwar Pujara (0) departed straight after the resumption, another lbw victim of Shakib.
But by that stage, Uthappa had decorated the match with some stunning strokeplay, mixing wristy glides to third man with three fantastic sixes.
One of those maximums was a brutal pull-shot off the front foot from the medium pace of a stunned Ziaur Rahman, but the other two were positively dreamy – an effortless clip over wide long-on against birthday boy Abdur Razzak and another over extra-cover off Shakib that appeared little more than a check-drive.
The resumption in play after a delay of 164 minutes prevented Bangladesh from escaping defeat but at least its bowlers and fielders escaped the worst of the conditions. The same could not be said for its India counterparts.
That opening session mixed a thoroughly unpleasant cocktail of hot sunshine and high humidity, and Mohit Sharma and Umesh Yadav, the only two seamers selected in Suresh Raina’s side, were especially grateful to return to the sanctuary of the dressing room.
“That was really tough, to be honest,” said Raina afterwards, “especially after two-and-a-half months (of the ICC World Twenty20 and the IPL), to play 50 overs. It was tough for the bowlers, they were getting cramps, and I was searching for bowlers.”
Mohit had to go off during a frugal opening spell with what appeared to be a problem with his ankle, but when he returned, he quickly succumbed to the heat, and after completing one over, he dropped on all fours before returning to his fielding position.
Yadav started strongly, his opening spell of 2 for 16 from five overs including the dismissals of the luckless and out-of-form Tamim Iqbal – given out caught behind for a duck by Wriddhiman Saha from the 11th ball he received – and Mominul Haque, but he, too, eventually flagged and by the time his ninth and final over – the 48th of the innings – cost 14 at the hands of Mashrafe Mortaza and Razzaq, he was spent.
Drinks breaks were marked by reserve fielders bringing out not only refreshments but also umbrellas and towels soaked in iced water to provide relief for their teammates, while those few thousand spectators who ventured along were mostly grouped together in whatever shade they could find.
In the first ODI played in June in Mirpur for six years, Bangladesh’s total looked below par as, although four players passed 40, no one went on to a substantial score with Mushfiqur Rahim, the captain, the top-scorer with 59 from 63 balls.
He, like Uthappa and Rahane, made batting look like a very straightforward occupation – coping with the heat apart – with three sixes of his own, two from his trademark slog-sweeps and another over extra-cover, before he became the second of two wickets for Parveez Rasool, the debutant offspinner, getting a leading edge to be caught at extra-cover as he looked to hit to leg.
Rasool and Akshar Patel, the left-arm spinner also making his debut, performed steadily in conditions that fully justified the selection of five specialist bowlers, something of a rarity for India in other circumstances. Indeed, it used seven as Uthappa completed one over when Mohit left the field for the first time and Raina produced five handy overs of offspin dismissing the dangerous-looking Shakib, who made 52 from 58 balls before miscuing back to the bowler.
“We were about 20 runs short,” said Mushfiqur. “They bowled well and did not give us many loose balls but our batsmen got in and did not go on with things.”
Raina, who finished off the match with an unbeaten 15 from 11 balls, produced a fielding highlight with a spectacular one-handed catch low down at extra-cover to remove Ziaur but by that stage, in the 46th over, like his players, he was all but spent. Having said at the toss that had he won it he would have fielded first on the basis that he was happy to chase, Raina may find his bowlers begging to differ with that approach on Tuesday.
Whatever happens, the four players who missed out on Sunday – Stuart Binny, Kedar Jadhav, R Vinay Kumar and Manoj Tiwary– may find themselves rotated in to the heat of the action. Literally.
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