Sehwag blitz blows Bangla away

Opener, Kohli slam centuries as India inflict 87-run defeat on hosts to avenge 07 loss

Sehwag blitz blows Bangla away

Celebration time: Virat Kohli jumps in joy after reaching his century against Bangladesh in Dhaka on Saturday. Reuters

Virender Sehwag (175, 140b, 14x4, 5x6) brilliantly executed his avowed desire to bat through the innings, and Virat Kohli (100 n.o., 83b, 8x4, 2x6) unearthed a silken, beautifully-crafted knock while becoming the first Indian to make a World Cup century on debut, setting the stage for a much-awaited revenge victory over the team that destroyed its 2007 campaign.

A capacity crowd of 25,000 was shell-shocked by the ferocity of the Indian batting at the beginning and end of their batting stint, and was left hanging on to a wing and a prayer after Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men, stuck in by Bangladesh skipper Shakib Al Hasan, amassed a mammoth 370 for four.

It was a fitting riposte from a side rolled over for 191 in the only other World Cup encounter between the two teams, at Port of Spain; that gargantuan total had effectively killed off the inaugural match of the 10th World Cup as a contest, the question at the break merely being what the margin would be.

In the event, it was a healthy 87 runs as the hosts faded after a bright early flourish. The stadium emptied rapidly towards the end, when Bangladesh settled for 283 for nine, and the realisation that there is some gulf between them and their sub-continental neighbours.

The five-wicket defeat four years back clearly rankled the Indians, and they were determined to wipe out those unpleasant memories. Offered first use of a track that was slow and low to start with, and then quickened up under the evening dew, India sussed up the conditions beautifully, putting on a batting exhibition that ought to have thrilled the genuine cricket fan.

The entire unit chipped in, but no one shone through brighter than Sehwag. At his imperious best, the Indian vice-captain is a fearsome destroyer of bowling attacks; on his own volition, he desisted from functioning at top gear all the way through on a draining afternoon.

The new ball offered the best opportunity for quick runs, and alongside Sachin Tendulkar, Sehwag cashed in, getting off to his customary blistering start with the hapless Shafiul Islam at the receiving end. Once the ball got softer and the spinners came into operation, he relied on the nip-and-tuck game to perfection, as evidenced by 53 singles and 13 twos in his match-defining knock.

The trademark opening of the shoulders and the big booming strokes weren’t unleashed until the very end, when his last 70 spanned just 46 deliveries and included five fours and four sixes. A knock just above his knee from paceman Rubel Hossain, easily the best of the Bangladeshi bowlers, necessitated him to requisition a runner and kept him off the park during the Bangladeshi chase, but it sure didn’t prevent him from cutting loose with a vengeance in the death!

Kohli’s was an equally refined innings, full of wristy elegance and stunning driving on the up. Having come on the back of successive half-century stands involving Sehwag, Kohli linked up with his senior Delhi-mate in an association worth 203 (145b), marked less by bludgeoning strokeplay and more through common sense and great intelligence.

India needed the cushion of that many runs in the bank, because their bowling was less than threatening at the top half of the chase and their fielding was unusually lethargic, even by their own modest standards. Imrul Kayes began as if he wanted to get the job over and done with inside 30 overs, subjecting S Sreesanth to a painful battering.

Both the frenetic start and the mounting asking rate were, however, too difficult to manage for any extended period of time. Bangladesh soldiered on manfully, never throwing in the towel but never ever seriously threatening to come close.

Kayes’ cameo was backed up by sparkling half-centuries from Tamim Iqbal, finding fluency after a scratchy start, and skipper Shakib, all intent and purpose, but fortunately for Dhoni, his three primary bowling cogs all delivered in style. Zaheer Khan, Munaf Patel and the impressive Harbhajan Singh, who didn’t get as much turn as the Bangladeshi tweakers had in the afternoon, more than made up for Sreesanth’s profligacy and the patch-up fifth bowler; their big challenges will arrive when the tournament hots up.

SCORE BOARD

INDIA

Sehwag b Shakib    175
(140b, 14x4, 5x6)
Tendulkar (run out)    28
(29b, 4x4)
Gambhir b Mahmudullah    39
(39b, 3x4)
Kohli (not out)    100
(83b, 8x4, 2x6)
Pathan c Rahim b Shafiul    8
(10b)
Extras (B-1, LB-2, W-16, NB-1)    20
Total (for 4 wkts, 50 overs)    370
Fall of wickets: 1-69 (Tendulkar), 2-152 (Gambhir), 3-355 (Sehwag), 4-360 (Pathan).
Bowling: Shafiul 7-0-69-1 (w-2, nb-1), Rubel 10-0-60-0 (w-5), Razzak 9-0-74-0 (w-1), Shakib 10-0-61-1 (w-3), Islam 7-0-54-0, Mahmudullah 7-0-49-1 (w-5).
Runs during: Power Play 1: 1-10 overs: 60/0; Power Play 2: 11-15 overs: 44/1; Power Play 3 (batting): 34.1-39 overs: 48/0.

BANGLADESH

Tamim c (sub) Raina b Patel    70
(86b, 3x4, 1x6)
Kayes b Patel    34
(29b, 7x4)
Siddique st Dhoni b Harbhajan    37
(52b, 1x4, 1x6)
Shakib c Harbhajan b Pathan    55
(50b, 5x4)
Rahim c (sub) Raina b Zaheer    25
(30b, 2x4)
Raqibul (not out)    29
(28b, 1x6)
Mahmudullah b Patel    6
(6b)
Islam lbw Patel    2
(8b)
Razzak lbw Zaheer    1
(5b)
Shafiul (run out)    0
(1b)
Rubel (not out)    1
(6b)
Extras (LB-9, W-13, NB-1)    23
Total (for 9 wkts, 50 overs)    283
Fall of wickets: 1-56 (Kayes), 2-129 (Siddique), 3-188 (Tamim), 4-234 (Shakib), 5-248 (Rahim), 6-261 (Mahmudullah), 7-275 (Islam), 8-279 (Razzak), 9-280 (Shafiul).
Bowling: Sreesanth 5-0-53-0 (w-5, nb-1), Zaheer 10-0-41-2 (w-4), Patel 10-0-48-4, Harbhajan 10-0-41-1 (w-1), Pathan 8-0-49-1 (w-2), Yuvraj 7-0-42-0 (w-1).
Runs during: Power Play 1: 1-10 overs: 68/1; Power Play 2: 11-15 overs: 25/0; Power Play 3 (batting): 42.1-47 overs: 30/3.

Number games

*India's total of 370/4 is their highest against Bangladesh in an ODI. Previous highest being 348/5 at Dhaka on Jun 25, 2008.

* It is only the second time that two batsmen have scored centuries in the opening match of a World Cup. The first pair was 100 n.o. by Martin Crowe (NZ) and 100 by D Boon (Aus) at Auckland on Feb 22, 1992.

* Sehwag and Kohli also became the first pair to score centuries for the same team in the opening match of a World Cup.

* This is Sehwag’s 14th ODI century and 3rd against Bangladesh

* This is his highest individual score in ODI surpassing 146 against Sri Lanka at Rajkot on Dec 15, 2009

* This is the highest individual score against Bangladesh by an Indian batsman.
Ganguly's unbeaten 135 at Dhaka on May 30, 2000 was the previous best.

* This is the highest individual score against Bangla in a WC match, surpassing S Jayasuriya’s 109 at Port-of-Spain on Mar 21, 2007.

* This is the second highest against Bangladesh in ODIs, the highest being 194* by Charles Coventry (Zim) at Bulawayo on Aug 16, 2009.

* This is the highest score batting at No 1 in a World Cup match.

* Sehwag reached personal milestone of 500 runs in World Cup matches when on 37 and passed 7,500 runs after reaching 120.

* Virat Kohli (100*) became the first Indian batsman to score a century on debut in a World Cup match.  He joined twelve other batsmen who have achieved similar feat. 

* The 203-run partnership between Sehwag and Kohli for the 3rd wicket is the highest for India against Bangladesh for that wicket. The previous highest was 139 by Gautam Gambhir and Suresh Raina at Karachi on June 28, 2008.

KR Gururaja Rao

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