Rohit Sharma scored his fourth hundred of this World Cup and ensured India’s entry to the semi-finals. Rohit and KL Rahul stitched a 180 run partnership together, the highest of this World Cup so far. Rohit fell for 104 and his wicket sparked a collapse as the Indian middle order failed to fire again. Rishabh Pant’s fearless 48 ensured that India finished with 314. At one stage, 400 looked possible but India lost wickets repeatedly. Mustafizur Rahman starred with a five wicket haul for Bangladesh.
Bangladesh started the chase confidently, putting the bad balls away and rotating the strike well. Shakib Al Hasan was in imperious form but wickets kept falling at the other end to soft dismissals. Soumya Sarkar and Mushfiqur Rahim got starts but failed to capitalise. Hardik Pandya varied his pace and length well and put constant pressure on the Bangla batsmen. Despite some late cameos from Saifuddin and Sabbir Rahman, India cruised to a 21- run victory.
Winning the toss and batting first on a slow Edgbaston pitch was crucial for Kohli. He decided to gamble by playing only five bowlers. Dinesh Karthik was given a chance ahead of Kedar Jadhav and Kuldeep Yadav was sacrificed for Bhuvneshwar Kumar. India sped to their best powerplay score so far, Rohit Sharma using his pulls and cuts and KL Rahul driving of either foot. Rohit’s shot selection was impressive and he punished bad balls with disdain. KL Rahul struggled to rotate the strike and most of his shots found fielders. Once the openers departed, having provided a good foundation, the middle order was tasked with finishing off on a high but they were not able to. Virat Kohli could not make it 6 fifties in 6 games, finding Rubel Hossain in the deep. Hardik Pandya fell for a duck, edging to the keeper while chasing a wide delivery. Dinesh Karthik failed to nail his spot down, top-edging a Mustafizur slower ball.
India’s rapid loss of wickets in the middle overs made hitting at the death hard. Rishabh Pant looked assured during his stay and unleashed his full range of shots. Rohit was handed a life when he was dropped at 9 by Tamim Iqbal. He came down the pitch to both seamers and spinners and picked the gaps beautifully. Yet again, questions were raised about MS Dhoni’s ineffectiveness at the death and his ideal batting position. Dhoni laboured to a 33 ball 35 but could not finish off in his usual style.
Bangladesh had commanding phases during the run chase but could not seize the momentum. The Indian bowlers bowled many cutters and did not offer any width to the batsmen. Kohli shuffled his bowlers around well, ensuring that a partnership-breaker was always available. Pandya used cutters, which were highly effective in the slow pitch, and got the crucial wickets of Soumya Sarkar, Shakib Al Hasan and Liton Das. Slower balls accounted for the majority of the wickets as the batsmen tried to use the one-sided short boundary to their advantage to no avail. Bumrah was excellent once again at the death, sealing the game with back to back yorkers.
Having secured qualification, India will look to experiment and test their bench against Sri Lanka.
Bangladesh would seek to spoil Pakistan’s march to the semi-finals with an improved bowling performance.
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Also published on Medium.