Viru, Virat flash the V  sign!

Virat Kohli, Munaf Patel, Virender Sehwag

Mirpur: Feb 19, 2011
By Jamie Alter
 
Setting a team 371 for victory in a World Cup opener – to be precise, a day-night match creaking under the thrill of the occasion, the excitement of a passionate home crowd and the billing of a grudge match – is a sure way to do one of two things: set up a tight chase or, in all likelihood, crush the opposition. At the Shere Bangla Stadium in boisterous Mirpur, India began their World Cup campaign in emphatic manner by beating Bangladesh by 87 runs while extracting revenge for their defeat in the last edition of the tournament.
 
Having won the toss and asked India to bat, Shakib Al Hasan confidently said that 260 was the most he wanted to chase. Instead, Virender Sehwag set the tone by crunching the first ball of the World Cup for four and didn’t let up until he fell for a splendid 175 in the 48th over, while Virat Kohli marked his first appearance in the tournament with a classy innings that kept with the vein of form that forced his inclusion today.
 
The afternoon and the match really, belonged to the Indian batsmen. Sehwag had said in the lead-up to the tournament that he was planning on batting at least 40 overs. Today, he was visibly determined to walk the talk. A 12-run opening over set the tone for an effortless innings against an attack that appeared overawed by the occasion, too often sending down wayward deliveries.
 
Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar laid the platform for a huge total with a stand of 69 inside 11 overs, before Tendulkar set off for a sharp single and found himself at the same end as his partner. There were times when Sehwag was kept quiet, most notably when Rubel Hossain bowled a series of short deliveries which he ducked under, but he didn’t get bogged down. His back-foot shots were crisp, and after a watchful start against spin, which began with Abdur Razzak in the fifth over, Sehwag produced an array of shots. Getting used to the pace of the track, he was content working the ball well into the gaps, chipping away efficiently. Using the angled bat to great effect, he provided a superb display of common-sense cricket. His fifty consumed 45 balls and was raised nonchalantly with a six off Razzak that landed behind long-on.
 
Bangladesh had a second moment of celebration when Gautam Gambhir was bowled by Mahmudullah, but that dismissal got India’s man of the season to the crease. Kohli’s run of form over the past year – he finished 2010’s second highest run-scorer – ensured he was preferred to Suresh Raina and the 203-run partnership that followed brought out the best in the Kohli and Sehwag.
 
In the form he is in, it seems difficult to put pressure on Kohli. Punching through the covers and flicking past square leg with great placement and timing, Kohli sent the ball scurrying across the turf to the ropes. He sprinted like a man possessed, pushing his partner harder with every successive run.  
 
At 224 for two after 34 overs, India opted for the batting Powerplay. The first ball was murdered back down the ground past a hapless Shafiul, whose personal fifty came up in 5.1 overs, and at the end of the over his tally had reached 64 as Sehwag slapped a full toss for six. India passed the 260 which Shakib had envisioned at the toss in the 37th over, during which Sehwag tore into Razzak. Sehwag and Kohli repeatedly targeted the straight boundary and picked up plenty of runs with drives and chips over the bowlers. Sehwag fell to a tired shot for 175, the fourth highest score in a World Cup, and soon after Kohli raised three figures, punctuating the moment with a leap in the air. He need not worry about his place for as long as India are in the World Cup.
 
With a massive target on the board, India merely had to stick to a good plan in order to restrict Bangladesh. Instead Sreesanth sprayed the ball all over the place during a shocking three-over spell that yielded 36 runs, 24 of which came in one over. That horror burst forced Mahendra Singh Dhoni to turn to Munaf Patel, who immediately succeeded in getting Imrul Kayes to chop onto his stumps. Kayes’s dismissal at 56 for one in the seventh over did little to dampen the enthusiasm of Tamim Iqbal and Junaid Siddique, who prospered from numerous inside-edges and squirts evading the stumps.
 
The pair was alert to singles and the odd double, but boundaries weren’t flowing. Tamim never got near his devastating best, while Siddique showed maturity and a sensible approach. The asking rate kept increasing and with the batsmen unable to clear the infield and frustrate the bowlers, India managed to keep control of proceedings. After making 37, Siddique was stumped off the skilful Harbhajan Singh, with Dhoni doing a tidy job behind the stumps. Tamim had been key to Bangladesh’s chances, despite the mounting odds, and when he heaved Munaf’s first ball of a second spell to an alert Yuvraj Singh at midwicket, the crowd was stunned. Tamim’s 70 should really have been something far more substantial if Bangladesh were to push India to the line.
 
The rest of the Bangladesh innings really lacked the conviction and character to pull off a chase of this proportion. Shakib, with a busy 55 off 50 balls, helped keep the home fans interested before he swung Yusuf Pathan to deep midwicket, and shortly after Zaheer Khan took some pace off the ball to dislodge Mushfiqur Rahim. Zaheer, aggressive as ever, returned 2 for 41 and Munaf pegged away to end with 4 for 48 as Bangladesh skidded to a morale-deflating loss.
Brief scores: India: 370 for 4 in 50 overs (Virender Sehwag 175, Virat Kohli 100*, Gautam Gambhir 39, Sachin Tendulkar 28; Mahmudullah 1 for 49, Shakib Al Hassan 1 for 61, Shafiul Islam 1 for 69) bt Bangladesh: 283/9 in 50 overs (Tamim Iqbal 70, Shakib Al Hasan 55, Junaid Siddique 37, Imrul Kayes 34, Raqibul Hasan 28, Mushfiqur Rahim 25; Munaf Patel 4 for 48, Zaheer Khan 2 for 41) by 87 runs  
(Jamie Alter is a freelance cricket writer, having worked at ESPNcricinfo and All Sports Magazine. His first book, The History of World Cup Cricket, is out now)
Pictures © Getty Images

Mirpur: Feb 19, 2011

By Jamie Alter


Setting a team 371 for victory in a World Cup opener – to be precise, a day-night match creaking under the thrill of the occasion, the excitement of a passionate home crowd and the billing of a grudge match – is a sure way to do one of two things: set up a tight chase or, in all likelihood, crush the opposition.

 

At the Shere Bangla Stadium in boisterous Mirpur, India began their World Cup campaign in emphatic manner by beating Bangladesh by 87 runs while extracting revenge for their defeat in the last edition of the tournament.

 

Having won the toss and asked India to bat, Shakib Al Hasan confidently said that 260 was the most he wanted to chase. Instead, Virender Sehwag set the tone by crunching the first ball of the World Cup for four and didn’t let up until he fell for a splendid 175 in the 48th over, while Virat Kohli marked his first appearance in the tournament with a classy innings that kept with the vein of form that forced his inclusion today.

 

The afternoon and the match really, belonged to the Indian batsmen. Sehwag had said in the lead-up to the tournament that he was planning on batting at least 40 overs. Today, he was visibly determined to walk the talk. A 12-run opening over set the tone for an effortless innings against an attack that appeared overawed by the occasion, too often sending down wayward deliveries.

 

Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar laid the platform for a huge total with a stand of 69 inside 11 overs, before Tendulkar set off for a sharp single and found himself at the same end as his partner. There were times when Sehwag was kept quiet, most notably when Rubel Hossain bowled a series of short deliveries which he ducked under, but he didn’t get bogged down.

 

His back-foot shots were crisp, and after a watchful start against spin, which began with Abdur Razzak in the fifth over, Sehwag produced an array of shots. Getting used to the pace of the track, he was content working the ball well into the gaps, chipping away efficiently. Using the angled bat to great effect, he provided a superb display of common-sense cricket. His fifty consumed 45 balls and was raised nonchalantly with a six off Razzak that landed behind long-on.

 

Bangladesh had a second moment of celebration when Gautam Gambhir was bowled by Mahmudullah, but that dismissal got India’s man of the season to the crease. Kohli’s run of form over the past year – he finished 2010’s second highest run-scorer – ensured he was preferred to Suresh Raina and the 203-run partnership that followed brought out the best in the Kohli and Sehwag.

 

In the form he is in, it seems difficult to put pressure on Kohli. Punching through the covers and flicking past square leg with great placement and timing, Kohli sent the ball scurrying across the turf to the ropes. He sprinted like a man possessed, pushing his partner harder with every successive run.  

 

At 224 for two after 34 overs, India opted for the batting Powerplay. The first ball was murdered back down the ground past a hapless Shafiul, whose personal fifty came up in 5.1 overs, and at the end of the over his tally had reached 64 as Sehwag slapped a full toss for six. India passed the 260 which Shakib had envisioned at the toss in the 37th over, during which Sehwag tore into Razzak.

 

Sehwag and Kohli repeatedly targeted the straight boundary and picked up plenty of runs with drives and chips over the bowlers. Sehwag fell to a tired shot for 175, the fourth highest score in a World Cup, and soon after Kohli raised three figures, punctuating the moment with a leap in the air. He need not worry about his place for as long as India are in the World Cup.

 

With a massive target on the board, India merely had to stick to a good plan in order to restrict Bangladesh. Instead Sreesanth sprayed the ball all over the place during a shocking three-over spell that yielded 36 runs, 24 of which came in one over.

 

That horror burst forced Mahendra Singh Dhoni to turn to Munaf Patel, who immediately succeeded in getting Imrul Kayes to chop onto his stumps. Kayes’s dismissal at 56 for one in the seventh over did little to dampen the enthusiasm of Tamim Iqbal and Junaid Siddique, who prospered from numerous inside-edges and squirts evading the stumps.

 

The pair was alert to singles and the odd double, but boundaries weren’t flowing. Tamim never got near his devastating best, while Siddique showed maturity and a sensible approach. The asking rate kept increasing and with the batsmen unable to clear the infield and frustrate the bowlers, India managed to keep control of proceedings.

 

After making 37, Siddique was stumped off the skilful Harbhajan Singh, with Dhoni doing a tidy job behind the stumps. Tamim had been key to Bangladesh’s chances, despite the mounting odds, and when he heaved Munaf’s first ball of a second spell to an alert Yuvraj Singh at midwicket, the crowd was stunned. Tamim’s 70 should really have been something far more substantial if Bangladesh were to push India to the line.

 

The rest of the Bangladesh innings really lacked the conviction and character to pull off a chase of this proportion. Shakib, with a busy 55 off 50 balls, helped keep the home fans interested before he swung Yusuf Pathan to deep midwicket, and shortly after Zaheer Khan took some pace off the ball to dislodge Mushfiqur Rahim. Zaheer, aggressive as ever, returned 2 for 41 and Munaf pegged away to end with 4 for 48 as Bangladesh skidded to a morale-deflating loss.

Brief scores: India: 370 for 4 in 50 overs (Virender Sehwag 175, Virat Kohli 100*, Gautam Gambhir 39, Sachin Tendulkar 28; Mahmudullah 1 for 49, Shakib Al Hassan 1 for 61, Shafiul Islam 1 for 69) bt Bangladesh: 283/9 in 50 overs (Tamim Iqbal 70, Shakib Al Hasan 55, Junaid Siddique 37, Imrul Kayes 34, Raqibul Hasan 28, Mushfiqur Rahim 25; Munaf Patel 4 for 48, Zaheer Khan 2 for 40) by 87 runs  

(Jamie Alter is a freelance cricket writer, having worked at ESPNcricinfo and All Sports Magazine. His first book, The History of World Cup Cricket, is out now)

Pictures © Getty Images