Rohit powers India past Bangladesh in Asia Cup opener
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Rohit Sharma’s stunning knock of 83 from 55 balls, and Hardik Pandya’s late flourish helped India defeat Bangladesh by 45 runs in the opening match of the Asia Cup at Mirpur on Wednesday. After putting 166 on the board, India restricted the hosts to 121 for 7 with Ashish Nehra picking three wickets.
Brief Scores: India 166/6 in 20 overs (Rohit 83(55), Pandya 31(18), Al-Amin Hossain 3/37) beat Bangladesh 121/7 in 20 overs (Sabbir Rahman 44(32), Nehra 3/23, Ashwin 1/23) by 45 runs
Chasing 167, Bangladesh had a similar start to their innings like their opponents, losing opener Mohammad Mithun for two to an out-swinging delivery from Ashish Nehra, which knocked his off-stump back. Bumrah made it two down for the Tigers in the next over by finding an edge off Soumya Sarkar to give Dhoni a simple catch behind the stumps.
With the team in a bit of trouble, Sabbir Rahman and Imrul Kayes took a safety first approach and carefully tackled the overs of Bumrah and Nehra in the hope of cashing in on the spinners. Dhoni brought on Ashwin after the powerplay and Sabbir Rahman welcomed the off-spinner with a reverse sweep as a show of his intent. Imrul Kayes tried to follow his partner’s lead and went after Ashwin in search of quick runs, but perished at fine-leg giving an easy catch to Yuvraj.
With the run rate quickly rising above the 10-run mark, Shakib Al-Hasan and Sabbir Rahman smashed Ashwin and Pandya for maximums in successive overs to speed up the chase, but poor communication between the duo saw Shakib falling short of the crease to some good fielding from Rohit.
The last hope for the Tigers was Sabbir Rahaman and the right-handed batsman departed in the 15th over, after top-edging Pandya, to return the pavilion for a well made 44 off 32 balls. With more than 16 runs needed per over in the last six, Mushfiqur Rahim smashed some to the ropes to keep the crowd happy but it proved to be too little too late as Bangladesh finished their innings at 121 for seven in 20 overs.
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Earlier, Bangladesh skipper Mortaza elected to bowl first after winning the toss on a wicket, which looked to be a bowler’s paradise. A four-man pace attack on a sub-continent wicket would have raised some eyebrows on any other pitch, but hosts Bangladesh went into the opening match of the Asia Cup T20 against India with Mortaza, Taskin Ahmed, Mustafizur Rahman and Al-Amin Hossain in their attack on a green pitch at Mirpur.
On the other side, MS Dhoni walked out for the toss clearing the uncertainty that was around his availability for the match. India also welcomed back Virat Kohli into the line-up after being rested for the T20 series against Sri Lanka with Ajinkya Rahane making way for him.
Dhawan and Rohit came out to get India off to a flying start but a sharp inswinger from the back of a length, which crashed into Rohit’s bat in the first ball of the match from Taskin Ahmed, was a sign of things to come in the match. But it was Al-Amin Hossain, who struck the first blow with a swinging delivery that found the gap between Dhawan’s bat and pad to send the stumps cartwheeling.
Kohli raced into the middle next and looked in an aggressive mood, jumping out of the crease in an attempt to go after the bowlers. After a few hits and misses, Kohli finally perished to a ball from Mortaza after trying to clear mid-off, only to find Mahmudullah to send the crowd into a celebration.
With the run rate just above five, Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma added singles and twos in an attempt to steady the innings, but a moment of madness from the left-hander saw his middle stump knocked back off a slower one from Mahmudullah. At 42/3 in the eighth over, it looked to be a repeat of India’s collapse in the first T20 against Sri Lanka in Pune, but Yuvraj and Rohit took the team forward with some lusty blows to up the scoring rate.
After scoring four and five runs respectively in the ninth and tenth over, Rohit Sharma upped the ante in the next by sending Taskin Ahmed to the ropes three times. To add to the misery, Shakib Al-Hasan dropped a straight one from the right-hander to give Rohit a life. On the other side, Yuvraj brought up 1000 runs in T20 internationals and looked in good touch by dispatching Mustafizur for a boundary in the next over. Rohit raced away and crossed the fifty mark in the 14th over but lost his partner in the same over with Yuvraj holding out at midwicket.
In what was an inspired move, India sent in Hardik Pandya instead of skipper Dhoni and the Baroda all-rounder joined Rohit to throw the kitchen sink at anything that came their way to push the scoring rate up. The duo smashed 61 runs in 27 balls to take India above the 150-mark with Pandya outhitting his senior partner. Al-Amin Hossain stopped the Rohit-Pandya juggernaut in the last over by removing Rohit for 83, off 55 balls, and Pandya for 31, off 18 balls, in quick succession. After Shakib’s drop in the 11th over, Rohit scored 62 off 27 balls at a strike rate of 229.62 to shift the game completely in favour of India. A trademark six off the last ball of the innings from Dhoni finished India’s innings for 166/6 to set the hosts a respectable target.