Rohit's knock boosts India

Opener slams patient 83 as Dhoni's men set Bangladesh challenging target
Last Updated 24 February 2016, 17:20 IST

India's top order was crushed by charged-up Bangladeshi pacers on a lively track but Rohit Sharma underlined his authority in the shorter format to bail the team out. His crafty 83 not only saved India the blushes but also gave them a fighting total of 166/6 in the Asia Cup opener at the Sher-e Bangla National stadium on Wednesday.

Rohit scored a patient knock under tricky conditions and got perfect support from young Hardik Pandya as the two amended India’s disastrous start.

The grey clouds that had shrouded most of the day had given way to a small drizzle that stopped before the game started. The occasional thunder of element was matched in the evening by a packed stadium soaked in national fervor and passionate support of their national team. Any anticipated breakthrough invariably excited the clamorous crowd and the cacophony reached a crescendo when a desired result materialsed, as was often the case on Wednesday. It was only lulled to quietude by Rohit and Hardik Pandya (31 off 18) in the last five overs.

The Indian batsmen hopped and skipped against the pace and swing of the young Bangladeshi pace attack on a green track after Mahendra Singh Dhoni, making himself available for the match, lost the toss. India’s haplessness dug out the memory of their embarrassing opening match loss against Sri Lanka on a juicy track in Pune last month. 

Nothing much had changed since. With the ball gripping the surface here and assisting the bounce, the Indians found themselves ill at ease. Only Rohit stood out as an exception with his discretion and clean, percentage hitting. In a complete antithesis, Rohit’s opening partner Shikhar Dhawan hurried for his strokes and had to swallow the humble pie when Al-Amin-Hossaini’s brilliantly pitched delivery came back sharply to knock off his stumps. Dhawan, looking to drive on the off-side, missed the line, the ball slipping between his bat and pad to leave the stadium in a frenzy. 

Virat  Kohli edged a boundary but was suffocated with the tight bowling and robust fielding by the hosts. With powerplay nearing its end, the restlessness in Kohli was evident. Mashrafe Mortaza, bowling his first over, had him when he tried to clear mid-off and noise could have brought the roof down.

Rohit silently grafted and had the specialist in Suresh Raina joining hands. But merely three overs later, Raina fatally danced down the track against Mahmudullah, whose slower one from around the wicket beat his defence. India were 42/3 when Bangladesh’s premium bowler Mustafizur Raheem had bowled just one over and Shakeeb Al  Hasan hadn’t even rolled his arms.

Amidst India’s ruins arrived Yuvraj Singh. It could well have been his moment to rustle-up the much needed time at the crease. He did succeed to some extent by stitching a valuable 55-run stand for the fourth wicket but perished when he failed to connect Shakib.

Pandya’s arrival allowed Rohit — who was dropped when he had made just 21 — launch India’s counter-attack. Hossain removed both of the batsmen within  two deliveries to return with the best figures of 3-37. Dhoni then hit a six off the last ball to end the innings in style. 

(Published 24 February 2016, 17:20 IST)

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