MS Dhoni had a good toss to win against Bangladesh as Indian openers began with a 75-run first wicket stand. And though star batsman Virat Kohli fell cheaply after Shikhar Dhawan’s wicket, India still had Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina and Ravindra Jadeja, who ensured that their team crossed the psychological 300+ mark. Towering among them was Rohit Sharma, whose 126-ball 137 was the cornerstone of India’s batting. His 122-run partnership with Suresh Raina blew new life in India’s batting after the total had only reached 99/2 after 25 overs with Bangladesh bowlers and fielders giving nothing away. From there, reaching 302/6 was possible by a late push by the Indian middle order in which Raina played an important role. Even in the face of a 303-run victory target, Bangladesh began bravely to put on 33 for the first wicket with Tamim Iqbal in murderous form but they got unlucky to lose both openers off successive deliveries. And when, Bangladesh’s hero of several past matches, Mahmudullah also fell cheaply, the writing on the wall became clear. In the end the Bangla innings folded after the 45th over for 193 giving india a 109-run victory. For India, it was also a remarkable achievement to bowl out their opponents for the seventh straight match of the CWC 2015.
Rohit Sharma began with a first-ball four to set the tone of India’s batting in CWC 2015’s second quarterfinal. However, after reaching 51/0 in 10 overs, India slowed down and could only add 48 runs in the next 15 overs during which they lost Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli. Dhawan went in the 17th over, when he charged down the track to a floater from Shakib-Al-Hasan and as he missed the flight, Musfiquar Rahim stumped him. After making just 3 runs off 8 balls, Kohli was consumed by Rubel Hossain in the 18th over, when he slashed at a wide delivery and the outside edge was taken by the keeper. But Rohit Sharma held on to add 36 runs for the third wicket with Ajinkya Rahane, who too fell to a soft dismissal.
115/3 in the 28th over was not encouraging at all. Bangladesh sensed their chances and looked for ways to throttle India at that point. Suresh Raina had joined Rohit Sharma who was not out on 56. Raina was fresh from his match-winning century in the match against Zimbabwe and he went about playing business-like cricket with Rohit. These two collected runs by shrewd placements interspersed with boundaries when possible and shunned all risky and lofted shots for a while. Raina hit his first six in the 37th over from Shakib-Al-Hasan and after that tempo of scoring picked up. India crossed 200 in the 40th over and prospects of another 100 runs brightened. Raina reached his fifty in the 41st over and in the 42nd; Rohit completed his maiden World Cup century. In 44th over, the Raina-Rohit partnetship was broken, when Raina attempted a mighty heave off Mashrafe Mortaza and ended up lobbing the ball over the keeper’s head. Dhoni came in but he allowed Rohit Sharma to take the bulk of the strike. With the century already completed, Rohit went full blast and added 36 with Dhoni for the fifth wicket in which Dhoni’s contribution was just 3 runs. Rohit finally fell for 137 off 126 balls and Dhoni followed him soon afterwards. However, Ravindra Jadeja came up with a 10-ball 23 run cameo that took India past 300.
Bangladesh began slowly but in the fourth over, Tamim Iqbal belted Mohammad Shami for three boundaries. Just when a Bangladeshi assault looked imminent, Umesh Yadav extracted an edge from Iqbal that the diving Dhoni picked low to his left. The batsman was not convinced so he asked for a review. The catch was declared as legitimate. Of the next delivery, Imrul Kayes was run out in a sad mix-up with Soumya Sarkar. After a 40-run promising partnership with Sarkar, Bangladesh’s star batsman Mahmullah was brilliantly caught by Shikhar Dhawan on the ropes as the fielder had to juggle before scooping the ball twice to make sure that he held the catch inside the ropes. From 73/3, Bangladesh were reduced to 104/5 in the 29th over. Musfiqur Rahim, Shabbir Rahman and Nasir Hossain did their best to lend respectability to the Bangla score but their victory was out of question even when the seventh wicket produced 50 runs. The last four Bangla wicket could add just 4 runs as their innings came to an end for 193 after 45 overs. India won the match by 109 runs and bowled out their opponents for the seventh consecutive match of the World Cup.
From Melbourne, India go to Sydney for the March 26 semifinal with Australia, who defeated Pakistan in the third quarterfinal on Friday. The story of that match will soon appear in these pages.