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Rohit, bowlers guide India to 45-run win

Batsman makes the most of a dropped catch to lift side to 166 for 6 before Nehra takes lead in keeping Bangladesh to 121/7

Rohit, bowlers guide India to 45-run win  - Cricket News
Ashish Nehra celebrates a wicket
Yet another blistering knock from Rohit Sharma, a late blitz from Hardik Pandya and excellent spells from all the Indian bowlers, led by Ashish Nehra, took India to a 45-run win over Bangladesh in the opening game of the 2016 Asia Cup at Sher-e-Bangla Stadium in Mirpur on Wednesday (February 24) evening.

Bangladesh gave it its best, winning the toss, opting to field, and keeping the pressure on the Indians for almost half the innings. A dropped catch from Shakib Al Hasan, however, seemed to switch something on in Rohit, and from then on, it was one-way traffic as India put up 166 for 6 and then kept Bangladesh to 121 for 7.

It must all go back to that 11th over of the Indian innings. India had lost Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina to get to 52 for 3. The stands were buzzing, and Taskin Ahmed, who had bowled a pacy and seamy first over earlier, was back. He went past Rohit’s swing twice in a row. Then the third ball, slashed, but straight to Shakib at point, who seemed almost surprised to get such an easy chance. Out it popped, and Rohit sent the next one neatly between third man and point, then one over deep point, and the last ball of the over, via a misfield, to the third man boundary.

A missed chance or two are par for the course in the game, but, in this case, it truly changed the course of the match. It could have been 52 for 4. Instead, it was 66 for 3. More importantly from India’s point of view, Rohit was on his way; from 21 in 25 balls before the start of the over, he had gone to 35 in 31. 

The first 50 runs of the innings took 9.4 overs to score, the next 50 came up in 15.3 overs, and 150 was on the board after 18.1. That’s because Rohit had turned it on, and when he does that, not only is it a good sight, it usually takes the game away from the opposition, as it did on this occasion. 

At the other end, Yuvraj Singh bade his time as he got to 15 in 15 before he just didn’t seem to have enough power to cross Soumya Sarkar at deep midwicket off Shakib.

That would have made Shakib feel a little better, but the carnage at the other end was on, with Rohit getting another 6-4-4 over, this time off Mashrafe Mortaza. Meanwhile, Pandya got in ahead of MS Dhoni and did exactly what he is in the team for: smash, bang, wallop.

By the 19th over, India had got to 149 for 4. But after sending the second ball off Mustafizur Rahman for four past third man, Pandya swung past two in a row, got two off the fifth, and ran a bye off the last. Just eight off the over. When strike finally returned to Rohit, he slogged Al-Amin Hossain to deep midwicket, where Sarkar took a superb running-diving catch, to walk off for 83 in 55 balls – that’s 62 in 27 after the drop – with seven fours and three sixes. Rohit explodes when he is set, Kohli has said more than once. He certainly did this time.

Pandya fell two balls later, hitting Al-Amin to Mahmudullah at long-on, for 31 in 18 balls, and it took a two and a six off the last two deliveries from Dhoni to take India above par, well past the average for the venue – 156 – and far beyond Bangladesh. 

If India had started slowly against the Bangladesh new-ball men, Nehra and Jasprit Bumrah, who both sent down crafty and probing three-over spells first up, kept Bangladesh to 31 for 2 after the Power Play overs.

Sabbir Rahman and Imrul Kayes tried to rebuild, but Kayes, filling in for Tamim Iqbal while he is on paternity leave, swept R Ashwin to deep square-leg, where Yuvraj took a tumbling catch. Shakib fell soon after, run out as he attempted a non-existent single.

And once Sabbir, who was enterprising and solid in his 32-ball 44 with two fours and two sixes, was caught by Dhoni top-edging Pandya, who was good in returning 1 for 23, it was a matter of when, not if. It came on cue, Nehra’s two-wicket over that helped him finish with 3 for 23 stymying the home side.

An excellent start for India, then, who has been on a Twenty20 International roll of late. Crucially for it, Dhoni did everything that was expected of him, dispelling fears over his back. 

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