India drub Bangladesh to set up final clash with Pakistan

India drub Bangladesh to set up final clash with Pakistan
A classy India continued to lord over Bangladesh as they scored an emphatic victory to storm into the final of the Champions Trophy here on Thursday.

On a glorious sun-kissed day at Edgbaston, the defending champions first outsmarted Bangladesh through some intelligent bowling in the middle overs to restrict them to 264/7. The batsmen then took charge, producing a wonderful exhibition of skill and class to gallop to a resounding 9-wicket victory in 40.1 overs and set-up a mouth-watering final date with Pakistan at the Oval on Sunday.

Like it has been throughout the tournament, it was the Indian top-order that came out firing all cylinders to make a mockery of the Bangladeshi bowling attack that looked overwhelmed by the occasion. Rohit Sharma (123, 129b, 15x4, 1x6) stroked himself to fluent century, skipper Virat Kohli (96, 78b, 13x4) hammered his third half-century of the event while Shikhar Dhawan (46) threw his wicket away after looking good for a big one.

Dhawan actually laid the foundation with a brutal decimation of the Bangladeshi pacers. On a belter of a wicket that had nice bounce and carry, Bangladesh strangely chose to bowl extremely short and Dhawan, who holds a special affinity for ICC events, feasted on them as the ball sat up nicely for the hooks and cuts.

He dealt predominantly in boundaries and despite Rohit typically taking his time to settle in, India got off the blocks in blazing fashion. None of the Bangla pacers, including the skipper Mashrafe Mortaza, managed to bowl with discipline, simply gifting runs to Dhawan and Rohit on a platter.

Under the pump, Bangladesh, playing their first-ever semifinal in an ICC event, received a slice of luck when Dhawan threw his wicket away. He realised the mistake he had committed and berated himself. It gave Bangladesh an opening but Rohit and Kohli shut it out with an exemplary display of batsmanship.

Rohit, one of the most pleasing batsmen to watch in world cricket, was silken as usual. He drove well and hooked brilliantly, hardly putting a foot wrong. Kohli, as usual, started off in a rush and maintained that high tempo right through. Bangladeshi bowlers were treated like club-level players as both Rohit and Kohli sprayed the entire ground with some scintillating shots to leave the raucous crowd asking for more.

While Rohit and Kohli made the win look ridiculously easy, the bowlers deserve their fair share of credit for restricting Bangladesh to a below-par score. Bhuvneshwar Kumar (2/53) and Jasprit Bumrah (2/39) bowled a fine opening spell to keep Bangladesh in check but the in-form Tamim Iqbal (70) and Mushfiqur Rahim (61) staged a fine recovery as the Tigers threatened to post a big score.

The experienced duo mixed caution with aggression to keep the run-rate going at a healthy rate, and with both on half-centuries at the midway stage of the innings, Bangladesh promised a good fight. Sensing he had to change things around, Kohli introduced Kedar Jadhav (2/22) and the part-time off-spinner removed both Tamim and Rahim in quick succession as Bangladesh collapsed to 179/5.

Both Ravindra Jadeja (1/48) and Jadhav then applied the brakes on Bangladesh, who lost their way completely. They fought back a bit through Mahmudullah and Mosaddek Hossain but just when they looked like taking wings, the Indians dismissed them in quick succession to seize control.

Skipper Mortaza and Taskin Ahmed then produced a gritty rear-guard effort. They rode their luck with edges flying to the boundaries. They managed to touch 264 but that proved nothing for the Indians who romped home with plenty to spare.
 

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